AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two men have pleaded guilty to murder and were each sentenced to 35 years in prison for their roles in the 2018 death of an Austin jewelry store owner.
Nicolas Shaughnessy, 22, was originally charged with capital murder in a murder-for-hire plot against his father Ted Shaughnessy in 2018. Ted Shaughnessy owned the Gallerie Jewelers in Austin.
Police say Nicolas and his wife hired two men to kill Ted, Arieon Smith and Johnny Leon. Smith, like Nicolas, pleaded guilty to murder as part of a plea agreement Wednesday and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
According to District Attorney José Garza, both Nicolas and Smith will be eligible for parole in a little less than 20 years.
Leon’s hearing is April 14, according to Shaughnessy’s attorney.
Garza added that Ted’s wife and Nicolas’s mother, Corey Shaughnessy asked for leniency in sentencing. He said the DA’s office considers the sentences for Nicolas and Smith to be appropriate.
“Our office takes violent crimes like this one, that make our community less safe, very seriously,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza. “My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Theodore Shaughnessy for their loss.”
Nicolas’ attorney released a statement Wednesday:
The past three and a half years culminated this morning with Nick taking responsibility for his actions that led to his father’s death. We appreciate District Attorney Garza’s willingness to come to an appropriate resolution without having the Shaughnessy family relive this tragedy at trial. Corey Shaughnessy, Nick’s mother, has told us that she still loves her son, but also expects everyone that played a part in her husband’s murder to be punished.
Ted was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in his home March 2 after an intruder entered the home. 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 incident said Nicolas, then 19 and living in College Station, was having financial troubles and owed his mother $30,000.
Detectives said they found a torn-up piece of paper in his apartment, and when they pieced it back together, it depicted a hand-drawn diagram of the murder crime scene.
In an allocution statement read before Nicolas and Smith after their sentencing, Ted’s family wrote in part, “Our family wants you to know how your decision on that day affected our lives forever – a selfish and heinous act of cruelty. Ted was a vibrant, compassionate, respected individual that had his life taken from him because of your greed.”
Addressing Nicolas directly, the statement went on, “The people that you selected to assist you have ruined their lives and their families’ lives as well. And for what? A payment for heinous act of cruelty? A payment that was never made? It would be our hope that you are never released from prison. We understand this plea, but are not happy about it.”
In May 2019, then-Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said her office wouldn’t make plea offers to the three men connected with the plot. However, because of a plea agreement, Nicolas and Smith were able to plead to the lesser charge of murder, rather than capital murder, Wednesday.
The Shaughnessy family’s statement to the two men went on to say, “Hopefully you will spend the next 35 years thinking about how you have changed our world and yours, and we hope that every day is a nightmare for you, as you think about the life that you had and the life that you could have had if you hadn’t made the decision to end your father’s life. It is so hard to understand that money could make you decide to do such a thing.
“Sadness has consumed our family and always will. The anger, however, has taken over and may never subside, due to your selfish decision. You are cruel, selfish, arrogant and wicked. These character traits will follow you into prison but will not be of benefit to you.
“What you have done is unforgivable in our eyes. None of you will ever serve enough time for our family. What you have done has changed so many people’s lives, including your own. You will be middle aged when you get out, and you won’t have many opportunities afforded to you, and that is the way it should be. None of you deserve any kind of normal life. Our lives are no longer normal, and you shall have the same fate.”
Jaclyn Edison, the wife of Nicolas, 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, however, she is not expected to appear in that hearing.