JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Action News Jax is revealing more of our exclusive interview with Shanna Gardner. She is one of three people charged with Jared Bridegan’s murder and the plot to kill him.
On Wednesday, Gardner’s attorneys, along with those representing her estranged husband, Mario Fernandez Saldana, want to have the entire state attorney’s office disqualified from prosecuting the case. They argue the prosecution had access to private and privileged communication they should not have had.
While Gardner’s defense team is concerned about the prosecution seeing her private communications, she was very open with us in sharing personal details in July 2022, including how she told her kids about their father’s death.
In February 2022, Jared Bridegan was driving home after dropping off his kids at his ex-wife’s house in Jacksonville Beach.
Police say Bridegan had seen a tire in the middle of the road, got out to move it and someone shot and killed him.
Jared Bridegan and his second wife, Kirsten Bridegan had two kids together. Their then-two-year-old daughter was in the car when he was shot and killed.
Now, Gardner, Fernandez Saldana, and Henry Tenon are charged with first-degree murder in connection with this crime.
In our exclusive interview with Gardner last year, she told us she sat down with Kirsten, and together as a “family” they told the children about their father’s death.
“It was a very quick visit,” Gardner said. “He came over just because she asked to be there to tell the children. And we just wanted it very clear that this is to honor his memory. We didn’t want too many details even though we disagreed. I think we all can agree that we love the kids, and they needed to be the priority.”
Gardner said learning about it was difficult for the children.
“It’s their father,” Gardner said. “They were, I think in shock. They were very emotional. And that was kind of the beginning of their, their journey.”
Now, fast forward a year, and the kids don’t have either parent – one was gunned down and the other is in jail facing murder charges.
“I know that this has been very trying on our family, but most importantly that my kids are involved in this, that they are hurting,” Gardner said. “This has been terrible to watch them go through.”
In this exclusive interview, Gardner also talked about how she and Jared first met, and how it ultimately led to divorce.
“I know that we haven’t always agreed; we have a very complicated relationship,” Gardner said. “But we always tried to do what was best for the kids.”
Their story began more than 10 years ago.
“As far as how we met, it was on a blind date in Salt Lake City,” Gardner said. “And we were set up by his brother and his brother’s wife.”
She said they had fallen in love quickly, saying it was a whirlwind type of romance.
“I mean, it was a very fast relationship,” Gardner said. “We married soon after dating. Within a couple of years, we had the twins. And, you know, any time kids come into the mix, it’s a lot.”
They divorced about five years after their marriage. Then, Gardner and Bridegan decided to share custody of their twins fifty-fifty. She said their divorce was messy, but it wasn’t always rocky.
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“You know, we had a really complicated relationship,” Gardner said. “I think, out of respect for Jared and his family. It doesn’t do any good to air dirty laundry. It doesn’t help anybody.”
After her divorce with Bridegan, Gardner remarried Fernandez Saldana. But they later became estranged. Now, both are facing first degree murder and conspiracy charges in connection with Bridegan’s killing.
Both of their criminal cases are being heard together. The next court date is set for December 1.