Crime & Safety

Man claimed he only instructed killer of his 22-month-old son’s mother to pull a prank, but simple call revealed he knew about the violence that was about to take place

A second individual, who claimed he only instructed the killer of his 22-month-old son’s mother to pull a prank outside her home, has been arrested in connection to the fatal shooting of a young mother in her car in July, as an intercepted police call between him and the first defendant revealed he knew about the violence that was about to take place, according to recent statements by the authorities.

The 32-year-old Phillip S. has been charged with principal to murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, as per a statement by the Sheriff’s Office. Stapleton was taken into custody in August.

The initial arrest in this case involved Aurelio D., 32, who was charged with premeditated murder for the shooting of Ashley V., 22, that occurred on July 20.

The incident took place near the residence of Ashley’s grandmother. Records indicate that Ashley was communicating via text with Phillip, who is the father of her 22-month-old boy, moments before the incident. According to an affidavit, she stated her intention to stay in her car after her shift because it was “too comfortable.”

Subsequent police findings revealed that Ashley was found with her phone on and had been engaged in a series of text messages. Phillip, during police discussions, revealed that he had only planned a prank with Aurelio, which involved defecating on the victim’s front porch, and denied any talk of violence against Ashley.

A previously-released affidavit about Aurelio might provide some insights into the case. The document highlighted an interview with the victim’s family, indicating that Phillip, identified as the father of one of Ashley’s children, had previously threatened her due to child support disagreements. A monitored call between Phillip and Aurelio captured Aurelio stating his actions on the night of the incident. Aurelio, at one point during the call, allegedly told Phillip: “I did it just like I told you, walked up to the back window, and boom.”

The victim’s family remained skeptical of Phillip’s claims of non-involvement. The grandmother of Ashley, Rhonda, expressed her disbelief in any strong connection between Diaz and her granddaughter that might have led to the tragic event.

On the fateful night, Ashley was outside her grandmother Rhonda’s house. Currently, the 22-month-old boy is under Rhonda’s care, while the 4-year-old boy is with another maternal grandmother.

As for the suspects, Aurelio remains in custody without bond in the Hillsborough County Falkenburg Road Jail. Phillip’s name briefly surfaced in Pasco County’s records, but he is in the process of being transferred back to Hillsborough County.

Raymond Simpson

Raymond Simpson is a California native, a longtime Coral Springs resident, and the Editor at TSFD. He lives with his family in Coral Springs, where you can find him on weekends running – literally running – with his two golden retrievers.

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