MOORE HAVEN – Artavistus Lyndrel Ware is on trial this week in the Glades County Courthouse, accused of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 2014 death of Mario Monroy Hughes.
Hughes was gunned down in his Park Avenue S.E. home in Moore Haven just days before he was scheduled to testify against Ware in a drug case. Hughes was pronounced dead at the scene by Glades County emergency medical personnel. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Special Agent Steven Harris, Hughes was shot multiple times.
FDLE agents believe Ware had Hughes killed to keep him from testifying.
In opening statements Monday, Assistant State Attorney Will Dorman said the state will prove Ware conspired with another individual to bring about the death of Hughes.
He said Hughes and his girlfriend had been working as confidential informants for the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, and had made undercover drug buys, which resulted in charges against Ware.
Dorman said the state will call multiple witnesses to show Ware attempted to threaten and intimidate witnesses against him.
“When that failed, the defendant was left with only one option – killing the state’s witnesses against him,” he said.
Defense Attorney Daniel Hernandez suggested the killer might have been someone else Hughes testified against. “I believe the evidence will show Mr. Ware was the fall guy,” he said. He said Hughes was a confidential informant in at least 10 other cases.
“Mr. Ware was charged in a drug case where Mr. Hughes was listed as a witness against him,” he said. “Evidence will show Mr. Ware was an easy target to blame because his trial was coming up.”
He noted Ware was charged three years after the murder. “After three years from 2014 to 2017 there was pressure on the state, or pressure on law enforcement to solve this case,” he added.
“Informants by nature, make enemies,” he said. “Word gets around, especially in such a small community as Moore Haven.
“I believe the evidence will show a lot of people had motive in this case,” he said.
Mario Monroy Hughes was born July 12, 1982 in Ahuachapn, El Salvador. Hughes grew up in Moore Haven and graduated from Moore Haven High School with the class of 2000. After high school he joined the United States Army. He was an Iraqi Freedom War veteran. At the time of his death, he was serving in the United States Army Reserves.
Even without Hughes’ testimony, Ware was convicted on eight felony drug charges including the sale of cocaine and the sale of schedule I and II narcotics. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
The investigation continued. On Jan. 26, 2017, a Glades County Grand Jury indicted Ware in the Hughes murder.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, spectators are not allowed in the courtroom. To provide more spacing, jurors are seated in the area normally used by spectators.
The trial is being livestreamed on the 20th Judicial Circuit website on Judge James Sloan’s page. Click on “View My Remote Hearings.”