Plantation dad allegedly stabbed wife, son to death after argument over affair

The Plantation family of four appeared to their relatives and their neighbors a happy one.

Jean Carlos Aponte, 40, and his wife, Sara Ashley Gama, 38, would be friendly to their neighbors when passing by. The couple had two children, Ethan Aponte, 2 years old, and a 4-month-old baby.

Gama’s parents told detectives they had seen their daughter the day before she and their older grandson were murdered, and nothing seemed concerning. They didn’t know of any issues between their daughter and son-in-law, never saw him act violently and knew him to be loving, though sometimes struggling from PTSD and angry outbursts.

Police had not been called to their home in months, weeks or days before March 26, according to Plantation Police Department records. Everyone “seemed in good spirits and happy” on March 25, a probable cause affidavit said.

Gama and 2-year-old Ethan were found dead at the home on March 26, while Aponte was found soaking wet in his nightclothes, lying on the floor of their master bedroom, unresponsive and with labored breathing after an attempted overdose, according to the affidavit.

Aponte is facing two counts of first-degree murder in their deaths. He is held in the Main Jail as of Wednesday without bond.

All names except Aponte’s are redacted, though the identities of those speaking to detectives were clear in the affidavit. Plantation Police publicly identified Gama and Ethan on March 27.

Mom, 2-year-old son found dead, dad hospitalized in ‘possible murder-suicide attempt’

Gama’s parents were expecting Aponte to drop off one of their children about 11 a.m. that day, as he did every Tuesday and Thursday, they told detectives, according to the affidavit. He never showed, and Gama and Aponte did not answer their phones. They drove to their daughter and son-in-law’s home in the 1000 block of Northwest 97th Avenue, concerned by the unusual lack of communication from them.

The car was in the home’s driveway. Gama’s parents rang the doorbell. A dog barked inside. They could hear the 4-month-old baby crying in a way that indicated “something was wrong,” the affidavit said. They entered the door’s code on a digital lock and went inside.

The home had the furnishings of a new family, with toys in a play area for the toddler and an infant swing, and signs of a morning routine stopped in its tracks: a partly eaten bagel on the counter, a plate with bite-sized pieces of food, being prepared for a baby, and two bloody knives, according to the affidavit.

The infant was found crying in a swing in the living room, facing the kitchen, where Gama lay dead. Gama’s father found her when he went into the room to grab a bottle for the baby, according to the affidavit. He called 911.

A Plantation Police Department sergeant found the toddler floating in the pool, jumped in and attempted to save him, but he had been stabbed multiple times and drowned, according to the affidavit.

Officers gave Aponte naloxone to treat the effects of an overdose, and he was taken to HCA Florida Westside Hospital, along with multiple empty prescription pill bottles found, the affidavit said.

Aponte’s relatives told detectives that Aponte, a Marine Corps veteran who was deployed in Iraq, had recently been diagnosed with PTSD by a doctor at a Veterans Affairs hospital, the affidavit said. He also had a traumatic brain injury from a fight several years ago, which made him depressed and in “constant pain.”

His relatives told detectives Aponte had been aggressive in the past but was taking new medications to help, though they didn’t know what. Gama’s parents said they knew Aponte had PTSD and trouble sleeping and had been taking Ambien and melatonin to help, the affidavit said.

At the hospital later on March 26, Aponte was stable but remained unconscious and was moved to an intensive care unit, the affidavit said. Officers watched him while he was in and out of sleep the day after the deaths and heard him curse angrily while slamming his fist, mumble “I’m sorry” and “I did it,” according to the affidavit.

A nurse asked Aponte at one point why he was laughing, and he responded, “That s—‘s crazy,” while laughing, the affidavit said. Once he was medically cleared, Aponte was committed under the Baker Act, a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold, then booked into jail on March 30.

South Florida father faces murder charges in deaths of wife, 2-year-old son

Both Aponte and Gama’s cellphones were found in a lake behind their home and recovered for evidence, according to the affidavit.

Surveillance video recorded from inside the infant’s room appeared to capture a woman’s voice arguing with someone shortly before 8 a.m. March 26, according to the affidavit. By shortly after 8:30 a.m., a child could be heard screaming in the video and a man yelling inside the home.

Detectives found that Gama and Aponte had been arguing in messages on WhatsApp and Facebook since March 25 about an affair she had recently discovered, according to the affidavit. The two were arguing in Facebook Messenger shortly before 7 a.m. March 26.

“I understand I broke ur trust,” Aponte said in one message.

Officers also found a message to Gama’s mother that was never sent, on an iPad that was in the home’s master bathroom: “Call 911,” according to the affidavit.

Gama had searched online on March 25, “just found out my husband cheated on me years ago” and “how does alimony work in Florida,” according to the affidavit, and she visited a divorce lawyer’s website.

Aponte was ordered by the court to undergo a mental health screening and to take any necessary medications, court records show. Attorney information was not available Wednesday.


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