A Pelahatchie woman who admitted to hiring a hitman to murder her now-ex-husband will spend the next decade in prison.
Jessica Leeann Sledge was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves to 120 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised probation, and a $1,000 fine.
"This is a horrible offense... The planning of a murder is an exceptional offense. Any sentence must reflect the gravity of the crime," the judge stated.
In February, Sledge pled guilty to utilizing interstate commerce facilities to commit a murder-for-hire plot. There was never a killing, and Sledge was ultimately captured by federal investigators.
Authorities determined that she violated federal law by using the dark web to recruit a hitman, by making three Bitcoin payments totaling $10,000 to the alleged killer, and by communicating with an undercover agent over WhatsApp.
Previous testimony indicates that Sledge attempted to murder her ex-husband, Jerry.
According to statements made at Sledge's sentence, the couple has divorced or is in the process of getting a divorce.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fulcher advised the court to impose the entire 10-year term provided as part of a plea bargain.
John Colette, Sledge's lawyer, pleaded for leniency, stating that his client was regretful for her acts and was a first-time offender with "zero likelihood of recidivism."
Fulcher refuted Colette's statements by referring the judge to a transcript of Sledge's conversation with the undercover agent she mistook for the assassin.
According to the presentence report, Sledge informed the hitman that she may have a second target and that a different method of murder would be required.
Fulcher also claimed that Sledge disclosed to the assassin that she was in a two-year relationship with another man and had discussed marriage after the assassination.
Colette stated that his client had made a grave error, but she should not be imprisoned for that long.
Even Reeves was disturbed by the severity of the crime. "We are aware of many contacts with an undercover agent... there were numerous calls and follow-up conversations about where to find her spouse, where he would be at a specific time, and how to execute the plan," he claimed.
Meanwhile, the judge also emphasized that there was never a time throughout Sledge's chats when she was afraid or had second thoughts about carrying out the murder.