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A Florida man accused of attempting to hire a hitman to kill his ex-girlfriend and her family planned to frame the Black Lives Matter movement for the crimes, authorities said this week.
Daniel Slater, 51, pleaded guilty to a charge of murder for hire in a Florida court last week, according to The Palm Beach Post. Slater agreed to a 10-year sentence after soliciting an associate working in alliance with the FBI to kill his 22-year-old girlfriend, Brianna Kane, as well as her sister and brother-in-law. Other charges, including possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess, were dropped in exchange for the plea deal.
Slater, a landscaper from Jupiter, Florida, allegedly attempted to compensate for the murders with money and cocaine. He blamed her family for ruining his relationship with Kane.
Slater also planned for the would-be killer to spray-paint the words "Black Lives Matter" at the crime scene, to “make it appear as if members associated with that movement were responsible for the murders,” said FBI Agent Jessie Apaza in federal court documents, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Slater came on federal authorities’ radar after a 2020 attempt to hire 26-year-old Brianne Slabaugh to commit the murders. Slabaugh, who told detectives she’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was off her medication, was arrested in the parking lot of a West Palm Beach strip club, according to an affidavit. She was driving a stolen Dodge Ram truck and armed with a loaded handgun. She later claimed that she had duct tape, chains, zip ties, and locks inside the stolen vehicle.
Slabaugh told deputies of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office that “she was training to be an assassin for a person named Dan Slater,” according to the affidavit.
Slabaugh said she has a history of drug use and mental health issues, authorities said. She admitted to visually seeing her deceased daughter, hearing voices, and wanting to harm herself in the past.
Slabaugh claimed that Slater threatened that if she didn’t go through with killing Kane and her relatives, he would blow up her father’s car. Detectives from the Violent Crimes Division investigated allegations that Slabaugh was stalking Kane, the affidavit said.
On Feb. 14, 2020, Slabaugh admitted to leaving notes on people’s cars, warning them of impending danger, authorities said; she also claimed that voices told her to “protect them.”
Ten days later, Slabaugh’s was found dead in the Everglades National Park, according to The Palm Beach Post. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office listed her death as a drug overdose of cocaine and heroin.
The investigation into her death led the FBI to another individual who knew Slater and began cooperating as an informant. Audio recordings of conversations between Slater and the unnamed FBI informant painted a graphic picture of Slater's violent ambitions for his ex and her family.
“Throw acid in her face,” Slater said, according to the Post. “Beat the [expletive] out of her, knock her teeth out, break her [expletive] nose.”
The informant claimed that he’d need another person to carry out the grisly plan, according to NBC News. The second person transpired to be an FBI agent.
Slater initially offered the undercover killer $2,500 to do a “drive-by shooting,” according to the post. He’d only paid $400 but promised more. He was arrested three days later.
In a separate incident, Kane called authorities around a month after Slabaugh’s death. According to a police incident report from the West Palm Beach Police Department, Kane reported seeing Slater’s truck in front of her home, despite having a protection order against him. When police arrived, they found Natalie Harmueller and Simeon Storr inside Slater’s vehicle, along with a handgun, methamphetamine, and other drug paraphernalia related to distribution.
Harmueller and Storr denied knowing Slater, who was not with them. He had not reported his vehicle stolen. Harmueller and Storr claimed they only knew one another by nicknames. According to the incident report the two were released after the incident.
A sentencing date for Slater has been scheduled for Sept. 16.
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