TAMPA, Fla. (TCD) — Three men are being charged with federal crimes for allegedly plotting to kill and fatally shooting a teenager to prevent her from testifying against one of the suspects because she accused him of sexual assault.
According to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, on Feb. 6, the victim, who WFTS-TV identified as 17-year-old Isabella Scavelli, went to the sheriff’s office with a relative to report she had allegedly been sexually assaulted by 36-year-old Lenard White.
On Feb. 7 at 11:30 p.m., Hernando County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home on Hazel Avenue in Brooksville regarding a double shooting. When officials arrived, they found two victims with gunshot wounds. Medics transported them to a nearby hospital, where the teenage girl died from her wounds.
Nienhuis said Scavelli and her relative opened the door and two men allegedly opened fire. Scavelli was reportedly shot four times and sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the lower back, which U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg said was caused by her trying to run to safety during the “barrage” of gunfire.
White allegedly reached out to 22-year-old Sheldon Robinson and offered to pay him $10,000 to kill Scavelli so she would not testify against him. Robinson reportedly posted on social media and asked for help with a “clean up job.” He allegedly recruited 21-year-old Keshawn Woods and offered to pay him $5,000 as well as give him cocaine.
The three suspects face both state and federal custody. Hernando County Jail records show White was booked Feb. 8 for sexual assault, then released three days later. On Feb. 15, he was taken back into custody on the same charge and for resisting an officer. Woods was arrested Feb. 9 for possession with intent to sell marijuana and other drug-related charges. He was released Feb. 24. Robinson was also arrested Feb. 9 for cocaine trafficking and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
The three men, along with Robinson’s mother, now face federal charges. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, a grand jury indicted White, Woods, and Robinson on charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, murder for hire, discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
White and Robinson face additional charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, tampering with a witness, and obstruction of justice. The three men are alleged to have “attempted to hinder the investigation by disposing of evidence, tampering with witnesses, obstructing justice, and making false statements to law enforcement.”
Robinson’s mother, Janet Williams, was charged with three counts of making false statements to federal agents. She was released in October and was placed under house arrest. Williams could face a maximum of five years in prison for each of the three counts.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Woods is now detained in federal custody, while the other two remain in the Hernando County Jail. They will appear in court Nov. 9.
According to WFLA-TV, Scavelli was a junior at Hernando High School and involved in different organizations at the school. The school district reportedly said in a statement she was “described by her teachers as an energetic, kind, and joyful student.”
The three men could face life in prison or the death penalty if they are convicted.
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