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Colorado woman arrested in murder-for-hire plot to kill ex-fiancé pleads guilty to lesser charges

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A Colorado Springs woman who tried to pay an undercover Colorado Springs Police Officer to kill her ex-fiancé in May 2022 has pleaded guilty to lesser charges in court Thursday.

Vanessa Lavaty, 34, was originally charged with murder in the first degree-solicitation charges, a class-two felony. A week before she was scheduled to go to trial on that charges, Lavaty struck a plea deal with the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office to plead guilty to retaliation against a witness and attempt to commit manslaughter, both charges that were added as part of the plea agreement.

El Paso County Judge William Moller accepted the terms of the agreement that stipulates a sentence that does not exceed 16 years in prison but is more than four years in prison or a community corrections facility. Whether Lavaty goes to prison or a community corrections facility, if accepted, will be in the hands of Judge Moller at a later date.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by 13 Investigates, Lavaty's live-in boyfriend Marty Jorgensen went to the police on Monday to report that she had asked him to find someone to kill Timothy Hanes, her ex-fiancé.

According to the affidavit, Lavaty had a 2-year-old daughter with Hanes. Jorgensen told police he believed custody of her daughter coupled with her hatred of Hanes were motivating factors. The affidavit revealed Lavaty was prepared to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 to get Hanes killed.

In the affidavit, Jorgensen said he initially didn't take her seriously but after several weeks realized she meant what she said. The affidavit says Lavaty told Jorgensen, "I really want this asshole dead" and that she wanted Hanes "6 feet under."

13 Investigates has been covering Lavaty's case for over a year, including speaking with the man she attempted to kill, Timothy Hanes. Thursday, Hanes said his focus has always been on his daughter.

"I want her in my daughter's life, but I do not want her anywhere near me," Hanes said Thursday after the hearing. "I'm having a really hard time wrapping my mind around how a mother could do this to her own daughter. If this was just about her and I, I wouldn't care what the judge sentenced her to because it was just a boyfriend-girlfriend thing."

Hanes said the murder-for-hire plot went way beyond a "boyfriend-girlfriend thing." He says it's a direct result of getting 50-50 custody of their daughter after they split up.

"She could not live up to the family court standards. I could, and I was easily going to get 50/50 custody. That's what pushed her to the brink of doing something to her own daughter," Hanes said.

Her whole plot was foiled when Lavaty, while under surveillance by the Colorado Springs Police Department, drew cash out of a bank account and then subsequently attempted to give that cash to an undercover detective with CSPD.

"It's on her record admitting that she attempted to commit murder. I mean, in the in the politician's sense of the word, she didn't actually have the gun in her hand. But the guy that she handed $500 to had a gun in his back pocket because he was an undercover cop," Hanes said.

Lavaty has been out on bond for over a year since her arrest. That alone has caused Hanes to adjust his day-to-day life, now always looking over his shoulder.

"It's been extremely difficult. I have not had good sleep or a night without grinding my teeth, worrying about a tree branch breaking in the yard. Now it's even worse because I know the walls are closing tighter and tighter," Hanes said.

Aside from Lavaty's criminal case, the pair have been battling through an ongoing child custody case in civil court. Hanes said he's been outraged that Lavaty has had visitation time with their daughter before he says she "gets the help that she needs."

"The fathers are constantly treated like demons, and the mothers are constantly treated with kid gloves, even when there's blatant evidence of the contrary," Hanes said. "I have to find a way to protect my daughter from being empowered with the concept that it's okay to do that to somebody."

Lavaty will be formally sentenced on September 28 after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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