2:31 PM PDT, August 3, 2022
A Mississippi woman has been sentenced to 10 years after a failed murder-for-hire plot, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Aug. 1, Jessica Leeann Sledge, 40, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised probation, and a fine of $1,000.
Sledge previously pleaded guilty and admitted that between September 2021 and November 1, 2021, she used interstate commerce facilities to commission a murder-for-hire.
She used the “Whatsapp” application to arrange the murder of her ex-husband, Jerry, according to WLBT. The outlet reported that according to comments made during Sledge’s sentencing, the two have gotten divorced or are in the process of finalizing their divorce.
But the “hitman” Sledge hired to commit the murder was actually an FBI special agent, the U.S. Department of Justice said. She met with the undercover agent in Brandon, Mississippi, on Nov. 1, 2021, to provide additional payment and information about her intended victim.
Investigators determined that she used the dark web to hire a hitman, and made three Bitcoin payments totaling $10,000 to the supposed hitman, the Department of Justice said.
A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice stated that investigators said the intended victim was ultimately unharmed. Following her arrest, Sledge waived her rights and admitted to her role in the murder-for-hire plot.
According to WLBT, Sledge’s attorney, John Colette, asked for leniency, stating that Sledge was a “first-time offender” with “zero likelihood of recidivism.”
Colette’s allegations were refuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fulcher, who pointed the judge to a transcript of Sledge’s conversation with the undercover agent Colette thought was the hitman, WLBT reported. The outlet reported that Sledge allegedly told the agent that there might be a second person she wanted to kill and that a different method of murder might be required, according to the presentence report.
Additionally, according to Fulcher, Sledge told the hitman that she had been dating another man for two years and had discussed getting married after the murder occurred, WLBT reported.
According to WLBT, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves said Sledge never expressed fear or doubts about carrying out the murder throughout their conversations.
“What we have here is a methodical plan to kill her husband,” Reeves said according to WLBT. “All of that is very troubling to the court and the law itself.”
WLBT reported that Sledge would complete her sentence at the Federal Bureau of Prison’s women’s facility in Aliceville, Alabama.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.