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Warrant issued in slaying of Cape man in Key West

By Staff | Mar 28, 2009

Monroe County detectives have issued a warrant for the arrest of Kirstena Whitmore, 40, in the beating death of a Cape Coral man aboard his boat in Key West last month.
Whitmore faces charges of accessory after the fact to murder and grand theft auto in the brutal slaying of Richard Gardner Feb. 10, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Whitmore’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Jonathan LeBaron, has been charged with capital first-degree murder in Gardner’s death.
Police caught up with the couple, who allegedly murdered Gardner and fled in his Mercury Marquis with several of his belongings, in a motel in Utah Feb. 22.
Whitmore and LeBaron remain in custody in the Salt Lake City area, Monroe County officials said.
Whitmore and LeBaron both have extradition warrants for their return to Florida to face the charges against them. LeBaron is reportedly fighting the return order although a Governor’s warrant for his extradition was recently obtained, officials said.
Whitmore reportedly told detectives she had met Gardner through a Craig’s List internet posting, and that Gardner had agreed to let her stay on his boat. When Gardner arrived the night of Feb. 10 to let Whitmore into the boat, LeBaron was waiting inside, she said.
Though Whitmore said she didn’t actually see Gardner killed, she heard “bones crunching” and “sounds of a struggle” as she was physically pushed to the ground under the weight of Gardner’s body, according to police documents.
Evidence collected at the scene of the slaying includes latent fingerprints found at various locations throughout Gardner’s boat, the Flo To Me, a table cushion, fingerprints with blood from the area where Gardner’s body was found and items “consistent with the collection of DNA evidence,” according to LeBaron’s arrest warrant.
Additionally, LeBaron threw a switchblade, a mallet and Gardner’s cell phone from a bridge on Highway 1 as they fled from the scene, Whitmore told police.
Police have not said if those items are believed to be related to Gardner’s death.