An alleged deal made with 10 $50 bills passed under the table at a Taco Bell could have ended badly for a Colorado Springs man.
Vanessa Lavaty, 33, is being charged with first-degree murder after deliberation for allegedly hiring a man to kill her ex-fiance in May. On Thursday, probable cause was established for Lavaty to be tried in court.
New details were revealed in witness testimony presented by an undercover detective, who went by “Josh” during the investigation. Lavaty allegedly hired Josh — posing as a hit man — to kill Timothy Hanes, 46, three days before a hearing regarding shared custody of Lavaty and Hanes' 2-year-old daughter.
Four months before the alleged deal was made, Lavaty asked her then-boyfriend, Marty Jorgenson, 50, for help finding a person to kill Hanes. Her requests persisted, allegedly making comments such as, “I want his a-- buried,” and “I really want this f----- dead,” according to previous reporting by The Gazette.
On Thursday, Josh testified that he became involved with the investigation after Jorgenson came to the Colorado Springs Police Department on May 16, concerned about Lavaty’s requests. Jorgenson allegedly felt responsible if anything were to happen to Hanes.
A 25-minute meeting took place that same night; Lavaty and Jorgenson met Josh at a Taco Bell east of downtown Colorado Springs, and sat across from him at a table. Lavaty told Josh information about her ex-fiance — his schedule, his address, his vehicle — and provided photographs. Josh said in testimony that he “gave her opportunities to not move forward with it.”
A price of $4,000 was agreed upon, police say, adding that Lavaty handed Josh $500 in cash as down payment and a Discover credit card, which was to be charged for the remaining $3,500 after the “deed was done.”
Lavaty allegedly cleared the charges on this card before the meeting.
Josh said he was to do repairs on Lavaty’s car and upcharge the services; part of his undercover identity was employment at an auto repair shop.
Lavaty allegedly said she did not care how the murder was committed but was specific about timing. According to testimony from Josh, Lavaty didn’t want the murder to occur when Hanes had custody of their daughter. She also wanted it to happen when she was at home, where security-camera footage could provide her with an alibi.
Josh said Lavaty became emotional during the meeting. He asked her if she still wanted to go through with it, but she attributed the emotion to her daughter being involved in the situation.
Josh called Lavaty the following day to confirm that she hadn't changed her mind about the agreement. "Deal," she allegedly said.
Following Josh's testimony in the El Paso County Courthouse, the judge determined there was probable cause to try Lavaty based on the testimony and the transaction of cash at the Taco Bell.
Lavaty previously posted $75,000 bond and is out on bail. She is due back in court on Aug. 19 for an arraignment.