AUSTIN (KXAN) — A third man has plead guilty to the 2018 murder of Austin jeweler Ted Shaughnessy.
Johnny Leon was originally charged with capital murder, but received a 35-year prison sentence Wednesday for the lesser charge of murder.
Last week, Arieon Smith and Ted’s son, Nicolas Shaughnessy also pleaded guilty to murder for a 35-year sentence. Both of them had also originally been charged with capital murder.
Nicolas hired Leon and Smith as hitmen to kill his father. Investigators say Nicolas and his wife, Jaclyn Edison, plotted to have both Ted and Nicolas’ mother, Corey Shaughnessy murdered so that they would get an inheritance.
Edison is is also charged in connection to Ted’s murder. She’s accused of solicitation to commit capital murder. She bonded out of jail shortly after her arrest in 2018. Her next court hearing is set for June.
Ted owned Gallerie Jewelers in Austin at the time. Nicolas was the sole beneficiary of $2 million in the event of his parents’ death, according to a search warrant.
Search warrants at the time of the murder said Nicolas, then 19 and living in College Station, was having financial troubles and owed his mother $30,000.
While Corey dodged bullets shot in their home, investigators say Ted was found with multiple gunshot wounds.
At the time, Corey stood by her son and daughter-in-law. However, after Leon’s sentencing, an allocution statement written by the mother and widow was read by a victim witness counselor, explaining she supports her son’s sentencing.
“Two of these people were strangers to me. But the other two, my son and my daughter-in-law, I loved. Not me, my husband or anyone in our family or any of our friends could have ever imagined that Nicolas and Jackie would want to have us murdered. It was truly inconceivable. And because of that, I held on to the tiniest string of hope that maybe it wasn’t true.”
She went on to describe how close the pair was to her, even after the murder-for-hire plot, “Nicolas and Jackie were with me when I went back to the house late in the afternoon on the day of Ted’s murder. They saw the pool of Ted’s blood where he had laid as he died — the broken glass, splintered wood and bullet holes. They went with me to pick up his ashes. They lived with me in our home, mine and Ted’s. They ate the food that I bought and cooked for them. They wore the clothes and the shoes that I bought for them. They planned their future of profiting from the business that Ted and I had built for over 20 years. They took everything I had to give after failing to take my life.”
Corey’s statement went on to say many facts of the case were withheld from her for the past couple of years, and the string of hope she had was finally broken, as she now feels all four involved in the case deserve punishment.
However, she noted she asked District Attorney José Garza for some leniency in their sentencing.
“Something went terribly, terribly wrong in the minds of these four young adults. And I thank the District Attorney for considering punishments that while severe will allow the possibility for them to have a future. Only God can forgive them, but Ted is dead, and he deserves justice.”
Garza says like Nicolas and Smith, Leon won’t be eligible for parole for almost 20 years.
Still, on Tuesday, during an unrelated press conference, Texas First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster made a reference to the Shaughnessy murder, criticizing the D.A.
“He’ll be back on the streets, a man who was willing to pay $1,500 to kill his father,” Webster said referring to Nicolas. “That’s how bad it’s getting in Austin.”
Garza rebutted that statement in an interview with KXAN after Leon’s sentencing Thursday.
We take acts of violence against our community very seriously, and as a result, the three people who have been charged and taken responsibility for this horrendous crime have received a significant sentence,” Garza said. ‘They will spend the prime of their lives in prison and very likely spend the majority of their lives in prison.”
Garza referenced Corey asking for leniency in their sentences.
“We take very seriously victims in our office, and there were victims in this case who wanted us to be lenient…who wanted us to be more lenient. But, we felt that this was an appropriate punishment for the horrendous crime that these people perpetrated.”
Leon’s attorney, Charlie Baird spoke to KXAN as well, saying he feels a 35-year sentence is plenty for his client.