tampabay.com

Pasco man accused of trying to have wife killed

By ERIN SULLIVAN
Published March 31, 2007


WESLEY CHAPEL - He wanted her killed as soon as possible. He never wavered when talking to the man setting up the hit. Authorities said Dwayne Brownfield, a 38-year-old car sales manager, had a plan:

He would take their children from the house so his wife, Jeannie, would be alone. The hit man would make it look like a robbery. He'd break in and shoot her. And he'd get $25,000. The middle man would get $20,000.

And Brownfield would be rid of his wife forever. He didn't even have to supply a weapon. The hit man would take care of that.

If things went really well, maybe his wife's boyfriend would be implicated in the murder. Brownfield knew he couldn't kill them both, Detective Dean Quinlan said, because he'd be a surefire suspect.

On Thursday night, authorities said, Brownfield went to meet the hit man for the first time. They were going to smooth out the details of the killing. So far, Brownfield had just dealt with the middle man. He waited in the parking lot of Publix on Collier Parkway and State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes.

The murder would be soon.

But instead of a hit man, Brownfield met an undercover sheriff's detective. It turns out that the man Brownfield approached to help him find someone willing to kill his wife had gone to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He'd turned informer - and was wired during their discussions.

Brownfield, who lives in Wesley Chapel, was arrested on a felony charge of solicitation to commit a murder. At 11 p.m. he was booked into the Land O'Lakes jail. He's being held without bond.

That night, detectives told Jeannie Brownfield, 32, that her husband planned her murder. Dwayne and Jeannie had been battling - verbally and physically - for months and planned to divorce, according to Pasco County sheriff's records.

Between November and January, deputies were called out to their altercations three times. One time, Dwayne Brownfield was accused of stalking Richard Strickland of Lutz who referred to Jeannie as his "girlfriend" in the report. In another incident, Dwayne was the victim. In the third, Jeannie was. Jeannie also has a 1995 charge of domestic battery in Hillsborough County.

Even with all this, Jeannie Brownfield was still shocked.

"She didn't know he wanted her killed," said Quinlan, a detective with the major crimes unit under Sgt. James Sessa.

"She was upset."

Dwayne Brownfield and Jeannie Trenchick were married in Las Vegas in 2001. She had a son from a previous relationship who took the Brownfield surname. During the next few years, Dwayne and Jeannie had a boy and two girls. The youngest girl is not yet 2.

Jeannie owns Claws The Salon in Tampa. Her personal assistant answered the phone Thursday.

"She's an amazing person," said LeAnn Miller. "It's all horrible what's happened."

Dwayne, a 20-year car salesman, has worked for the past month at Suncoast Ford in Port Richey. People there are stunned about what happened to the man with the Superman tattoo on his left leg.

"We do background checks on everybody here, and Dwayne's was spotless. Flawless," said Sonny Glover, general manager at Suncoast. "We have cut ties with Dwayne."

On Thursday afternoon, Brownfield made his first appearance in court. Beamed in from the Land O'Lakes jail, he was shown on a video screen in Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro's courtroom in New Port Richey. Dressed in blue overalls, he spoke only to answer the judge's questions.

The judge said his bond is zero. She said he'll have no contact with the victim.

Jeannie was in the courtroom. Her face was stoic. Afterward, she seemed on the verge of tears. She declined to comment.

Times staff writers C.T. Bowen and Jamal Thalji and researcher Angie Holan contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.