Fourth suspect arrested in murder-for-hire killing of Austin jeweler
UPDATE: Online records show Arieon Smith was in custody Friday night at the Travis County Jail with a $1 million bond.
Arieon Smith is charged with capital murder in the death of Ted Shaughnessy in his Austin home on March 2.
He is the fourth person arrested in the case. The victim's son, Nicholas Shaughnessy, was indicted on capital murder in August. Nicholas Shaughnessy's wife Jaclyn Edison posted bond on a solicitation to commit capital murder charge. Johnny Leon is facing a capital murder charge after a grand jury indicted him, too. Investigators say it was all part of a murder-for-hire conspiracy detectives say was masterminded by Nicholas Shaughnessy, who allegedly thought he would inherit millions of dollars on the death of his parents, who owned Gallerie Jewelers.
The affidavit for Smith's arrest says detectives pulled Smith's cell phone records to establish communication between Smith and the other suspects, and his location.
Cell phone records have become a big tool in an investigator's toolbox. They were used in another high profile Central Texas murder -- when then-Austin police officer Vontrey Clark was accused of planning the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Samantha Dean, in 2015. That's because the evidence is hard to dispute, according to Greg Ledenbach. He is a senior digital forensic examiner we interviewed about cell phone evidence. "The evidence is factual, reliable, dependable and correct," he said.
According to the Smith affidavit, investigators confirmed that Smith communicated with Leon 64 times the day before and the day of the murder. Leon, who is accused of actually carrying out the killing, has since been indicted for capital murder by a grand jury.
But records show Smith's phone was only in use from College Station, where Nicholas Shaughnessy and Jaclyn Edison lived at the time, before and after the crime. Records show Leon's cell phone traveled from College Station to Austin and back around the time of the murder and Smith told the detective he said no when Leon offered him $200 up front to help him murder the Shaughnessys.
That's where good old fashioned policework came in. Detectives interviewed a friend of Smith's -- who says they got a hotel room in College Station that night -- before Smith turned off his phone and was gone until morning. The friend said when Smith returned, he had money that he did not have the night before.
Fort Worth police arrested Smith Wednesday on a marijuana charge. Once in the Tarrant County Jail, a Travis County detective questioned him, and Smith was charged with capital murder after a judge signed off on the arrest affidavit.
Smith will be transferred to Travis County once a judge approves it.