AUSTIN (KXAN) — A fourth person has been arrested in connection with a murder-for-hire plot that ended in the death of a jeweler trying to defend himself and his wife in their home earlier this year in southwest Travis County.
Arieon Oneal Smith, 21, faces a capital murder charge. Johnny Roman Leon III was taken into custody in July and also faces a capital murder charge. Nicolas Shaughnessy also faces a capital murder charge and both he and his wife Jaclyn Alexa Edison face solicitation of capital murder charges.
The couple is accused of hiring Smith and Leon to kill Nicolas’ father, Ted Shaughnessy, who owned Galleria Jewelers in central Austin. He was shot and killed in his home on Oliver Drive on March 2.
The morning of the murder
Woken by the sound of his dogs barking, Ted Shaughnessy grabbed a handgun from his dresser drawer and went to investigate. His wife told police soon after, she heard gunshots and grabbed her own gun.
The suspects started shooting into the bedroom where she was, and she fired back until she ran out of bullets. She hid in a closet and called 911.
The kitchen in the home was riddled with bullet holes and casings, according to an affidavit. Although Ted Shaughnessy had grabbed his own gun, he had not fired it. Police noted it appeared no one had forced their way into the home or taken anything, but a window in the bedroom belonging to their son Nicolas was open.
Investigators track down suspects
Nicolas Shaughnessy denied any involvement when interviewed on March 3. His wife, Jaclyn, however, told police Nicolas “had planned on killing his parents.” She said he had met someone “in a club” who agreed to do the job.
At some point, Nicolas Shaughnessy met Johnny Roman Leon III and offered him $100,000 to help him, according to documents filed in court. Nicolas turned off the security cameras in his College Station home and drove to Austin on Feb. 28 with Leon, according to an affidavit, but Jaclyn said he had not gone through with it.
A witness told police Leon had asked him to go to Nicolas Shaughnessy’s house to “help a friend of his move.” When he arrived, he said the two detailed how they had scoped out an Austin home, and eventually told him “they needed two people to kill two people, by shooting them and possibly shooting some dogs,” according to an affidavit.
The witness refused and later spoke to police.
The search for another suspect
Arieon Oneal Smith, a friend of Leon’s, told police he met Nicolas in a club. Smith said he didn’t know anything about the murder, but later told police he met with Leon, who offered him $5,000 per month. He told police he didn’t participate in the murder but did go with a friend to a College Station hotel and let Leon use that friend’s car to drive to Austin.
Smith claimed he stayed at the hotel until the next morning, but the friend told police he had left the hotel during that time. Smith eventually returned, giving the friend $100 toward the trip. Police asked Smith to explain how his DNA ended up at the crime scene and the reason his cell phone showed he took a trip to Austin. Smith said Leon had borrowed his shirt, and that he had left his cell phone in the car Leon took.
Smith is in custody in the Tarrant County Jail. He’s being held on a $1 million cash bond.