Evergreen attorney sentenced to 10 years in prison

Jennifer Emmi accused of trying to hire a hitman for estranged husband's girlfriend

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The Evergreen attorney who pleaded guilty to six felonies including soliciting someone to kill her estranged husband's girlfriend will spend 10 years in prison.

After three and a half hours of testimony during Jennifer Emmi's sentencing hearing on Aug. 16, District Judge Randall Arp said he saw two sides of Emmi: the successful attorney and loving mother, and then the side of Emmi who committed the criminal acts that also included menacing, attempting to influence a judge and retaliation against a witness.

He said her behavior and her failure to be accountable and take responsibility for her actions indicated she would not be a good candidate for rehabilitation, and her actions could not be condoned in civilized society.

The prosecution asked for the sentence to include prison time, and the defense asked for probation.

Colin Bresee, Emmi’s attorney, said they were disappointed with the verdict, noting that her defense team believed she would have been an excellent candidate for probation.
“Speaking with Jennifer, she is deeply disappointed, and her biggest concern is access to her children that she still does not have,” Bresee said. 

Emmi received several other sentences that will be served concurrently with the longest being 10 years, though she was given credit for the seven months she has already been in jail.

Arp said it would be up to the judge in her domestic relations case to decide whether she would be allowed to have contact with her three children.

Emmi, 43, also known as Jennifer Edwards, is an animal rights attorney who began The Animal Law Center and is a media celebrity for her work helping animals. She was originally charged with more than 16 felonies and 16 misdemeanors filed over the last 20 months. The rest of the charges have been dismissed.

The prosecution argued that Emmi had repeatedly tried to find someone to kill her estranged husband's girlfriend and had endangered her children. This newspaper is choosing not to provide specifics of some of the charges to protect the children.

Prosecutor Kate Knowles said Emmi has portrayed herself as a victim who did nothing wrong, and she did not show any signs of letting go of trying to get her children back or stopping her behavior. She said the family needed to heal by ensuring their safety with Emmi incarcerated.

Knowles said that Emmi invited media attention to the case, which caused additional harm to her children.

“That's not putting her children first,” she said.

In two hours of testimony, the defense said Emmi was treated differently than other people accused of such crimes, that she had been a respected animal-rights attorney who created an area of law still being used today, and she was a devoted mother who hadn't seen her children in nearly 18 months.

Defense attorney Colin Bresee said she needed to be reintegrated with her children rather than being punished more by the court, and she was willing to continue counseling both alone and with her children.

He noted that she had been ill and given large doses of steroids that can cause anger issues, and when she spoke with someone about killing her estranged husband's girlfriend, she decided to think about it and then said no.

“Her life before 2018 shows she can lead a law-abiding life,” Emmi's other defense attorney Malcolm Seawell said. “She recognizes that to be there for (for children) she has to take care of herself. Probation will allow her to move on. She clearly lost her way … and we are asking that you allow her to find her way back.”

Allegations in the affidavit

The Jeffco Sheriff's Office had been investigating Emmi since July 2020, and the affidavit states that she “conspired with and solicited multiple third parties to murder, harass, surveil, and retaliate against victims and witnesses in her criminal and civil cases.”

Jeffco investigators found evidence that Emmi “has also been conducting research on and targeting numerous persons involved in her cases as well as their uninvolved family members. … (She) has contacted numerous third parties, alleging that her estranged husband and his girlfriend have kidnapped, brainwashed and are abusing her children as a long-term plot to frame (her), of which (the investigator) found no evidence,” the affidavit said.

Emmi and her husband began having marital problems in January 2019, and when her husband threatened divorce, Jennifer began to complain of various illnesses, according to the arrest affidavit.

In January 2020, the affidavit says she put a knife to her husband's throat at a family birthday party. She also researched on the internet ways to evade law enforcement detection, according to the affidavit.

The arrest affidavit says Emmi asked a ranch hand about killing her estranged husband's girlfriend. The ranch hand informed the husband and the Jeffco Sheriff's Office about the request and said when he warned Emmi that her husband might be killed too, she replied: “I'm inclined to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak,” according to the affidavit.

Investigators also learned that Emmi approached another man who had been a trained military sniper about killing people for her, according to the affidavit.

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