Hattiesburg woman in ‘love triangle’ found guilty in murder-for-hire
FORREST COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - The saga of a Hattiesburg love triangle ended its latest chapter as one woman was found guilty of attempted capital murder in a 2022 murder-for-hire.
Judge Robert B. Helfrich presided over the trial of 43-year-old Shameka Hall in the Forrest County Circuit Court on Thursday. She was arrested in November 2022 after her step-brother, Bernardo Loftin, worked with the Hattiesburg Police Department to capture her planning the murder on a hidden camera.
Loftin said he went to the police after Hall approached him with the idea because he was on parole at the time and worried he was being set up.
Prosecutors played the 38-minute video for the jury at Thursday’s trial. The video showed Loftin on the phone with Hall as she instructed him to pick her up without being seen. It then shows her getting into the vehicle and discussing how the intended victim was “causing (Hall) problems” and how she wanted her gone.
“And you’re really going through with this?” asks her brother in the video.
Hall responds, “Hell yeah!”
In the video, Loftin then begins to negotiate a price. He asked for $2,000 with $500 upfront since they planned for him to travel to Kansas City, where the victim was currently staying. When he found out that the victim was returning to Hattiesburg on Nov. 30 for a court date over an altercation with Hall, he proposed doing the murder while the woman was in town and lowered the upfront cost to $200.
The prosecution also presented text messages between Loftin and Hall discussing repairs on a house. Loftin said it was code for completing the hit.
“The price doing that work on that house,” reads one of the texts. “It’ll be completed, but it’s going to be complicated. The estimate is around $2,000. I got all the material. I’ll have it ready before Thanksgiving.”
When asked what he meant by the house, Loftin explained further.
“That’s telling her that I’ve been looking at the, uh, been driving by the house,” he testified. “I pretty much know about the hit and when the hit is going to take place. She just needs to have my money together.”
Back in the video, Loftin asked Hall how she would get the money.
“I’ll get it from my sugar daddy,” she answers in the video.
He later tells Hall that she will also have to get a gun, and she says that she’ll get one from her uncle, who is coming in from Texas.
The video ends when Loftin purposefully rolls through a stop sign so police can stage a traffic stop and take Hall into custody.
The defense argued that Hall was venting her anger about her boyfriend of 13 years cheating on her with a much younger woman and that she didn’t mean what she said. Hall herself would later take the stand to reiterate that point.
“I think I was having a mental break,” she said. “It was just talk.”
The defense also argued that Hall had no means of actually paying Loftin to go through with the murder because she was homeless and living out of her car at the time.
Hall testified that the texts that the prosecution presented were actually referring to a house off 31st Ave. she was planning on moving into once it was repaired. However, no evidence was presented to the court to prove the house existed.
“Does it look like I can repair a house?” asked Loftin when questioned by the defense. “I’ve been in jail most of my life.”
During Loftin’s cross-examination, the defense argued that Loftin working with the police was “just another one of (his) schemes” and that he set Hall up so he could get help on two pending charges - including a murder charge in Jefferson Davis County.
Loftin denied the allegation.
“I told them verbatim, ‘I don’t need your help on the murder charge in Jefferson Davis County,” he testified.
However, Loftin did admit to telling the police he could use some help on the other one.
In their re-direct, the prosecution established that they had not offered Loftin a deal in exchange for cooperation or testifying at Hall’s trial.
Other witnesses for the prosecution included Hall’s former landlord, HPD Detective Kelly Gardner and HPD Detective Sgt. Chadra Daniels.
Witnesses for the defense included Hall’s ex-boyfriend, Hall’s half-sister and Hall herself.
After a 42-minute deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
Judge Helfrich ordered that Hall be remanded to the custody of the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office while a pre-sentencing investigation was being conducted. Her sentencing date will be set at a later time.
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