During an 8 July hearing in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale, Daniel Slater, 51, admitted that his plan was to kill a woman, who allegedly is his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend, as well as her sister and brother-in-law, who he thought had ruined the relationship, The Palm Beach Post reported.
The landscaper pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of murder for hire. His sentence is likely to be 10 years in prison.
Slater faced a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison if he was convicted of his six charges, but he instead accepted a plea deal during the hearing presided over by US District Judge James Cohn.
The person he thought was a hired killer turned to be an undercover FBI agent. For his cooperation, prosecutors agreed to drop two other murder-for-hire and three drug charges he was facing.
Richard Della Fera is the fourth lawyer to represent Slater. He said the evidence against the landscaper was “quite voluminous”. The proof included phone recordings of Slater speaking about how his ex should be treated.
“Throw acid on her face,” “beat the [expletive] out of her, knock her teeth out, break her [expletive] nose,” he said on the recordings, court documents state.
FBI agents were led to Slater following the arrest of 26-year-old Brianne Slabaugh in February 2020. She was found dead in Everglades National Park in Miami 18 days later after an overdose of heroin and cocaine, according to a medical examiner.
But before her death, she told Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies that Slater was training her to become an assassin.
Court documents say he wanted her to “kidnap several people associated with his ex-girlfriend”.
“Slater and his associate drove by the victim’s home, during which Slater instructed his associate on how to carry out the murders when the time came,” a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida said.
“Slater pointed out which of the home’s windows to shoot through to kill the couple. Slater also instructed his associate to spray-paint the house to make it appear as if members of the Black Lives Matter movement had committed the crime,” the office added.
Slater offered “twenty-five hundred” dollars to do a “drive-by shooting,” at one point, but ended up paying only $400, but added that more would be coming later.
Slater is imprisoned at the Broward County Jail. His sentencing is scheduled for 16 September. He made one request during the court hearing – to be allowed to call his wife and three children.
Judge Cohn asked jail staff to facilitate the call. “I miss talking to my kid[s],” he wrote to Judge Cohn in May. “Please get a hearing as soon as possible.”