She's put away many of Pensacola's most notorious killers. You probably don't know her name.




  • In US
  • 2021-12-06 11:01:02Z
  • By Pensacola News Journal
Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen looks over some of her case notes Thursday.
Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen looks over some of her case notes Thursday.  

You're much more likely to recognize the names of the people she has sent to prison than her own.

But that's OK with Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen. She is well aware there is little glory in being a prosecuting attorney.

She knows the general public likely has no idea who she is as she walks down Palafox Street on her lunch breaks from the courthouse, despite the countless sleepless nights she has spent working to keep them safe.

As the lead homicide prosecutor based in Pensacola for the State Attorney's Office, Jensen has been responsible for more than a decade for ensuring that many of Escambia County's most notorious killers have been locked away from the public. During her career, she has prosecuted more than 50 murder trials.

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"At the end of the day, when I do sleep at night, I sleep knowing that I do a good thing," Jensen said. "I do an honorable thing for the victims, for their families, for the community, for the state of Florida, for the Office of the State Attorney. I don't think that there is any amount of money that would make me feel better."

Now after 12 years of serving her community, Jensen is stepping away from the courtroom to take on a new administrative role as chief assistant state attorney. Her former in-court prosecutorial partner, Assistant State Attorney Trey Myers, will step up to take her place as the lead homicide attorney for the State Attorney's Office.

"I'd like to say that I'm on a hiatus," Jensen said. "I love the courtroom, and I love homicide cases. That's what I've done for the last 12 years. So I don't want to say that I'll never do it again … but 12 years of constant pressure and stress and murders, this is a really nice breath."

The list of people Jensen has helped put behind bars is lengthy.

In 2011, she was involved in the trial of Zachary Littleton, a former Navy master-at-arms who was ultimately found guilty of murdering his pregnant girlfriend, 25-year-old Samira Watkins, in 2009.

In 2012, Jensen prosecuted Tina Brown, who was convicted for Tasering, beating and setting a woman on fire.

She also led the prosecution of Leonard Gonzalez Jr., the mastermind behind the 2009 murders of Beulah philanthropists Byrd and Melanie Billings.

More recently, Jensen has worked as a prosecutorial team with Myers - taking turns speaking in court and alternating who questioned witnesses - on three, high-profile cases.

"I think a lot of people don't get our job. Our job is not necessarily to convict," Myers said. "Our job as a prosecutor is to put the facts out there as they are and present the case and the law and let a jury decide whether there is enough evidence to convict a person of whatever crime.

"Obviously in homicides, there is a greater interest, whether in the public or the families of victims, in wanting to make sure that we convict someone of a terrible crime and importantly that we convict the right person for the right charge," he continued. "So that is the most pressure, because you want to make sure that you get it right."

Jensen and Myers worked as team for the first time during the June 2019 trial of Henry Steiger. Steiger was found guilty of second-degree murder after prosecutors successfully argued he killed Cassandra Robinson after the birthday party for their 1-year-old daughter.

Last year, Jensen and Myers also worked together during the trial of Donald Hartung Sr. Hartung was eventually found guilty of three counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother and two brothers.

Assistant State Attorney Trey Myers and Chief Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen talk Thursday about upcoming cases during an interview.
Assistant State Attorney Trey Myers and Chief Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen talk Thursday about upcoming cases during an interview.  

But it was the third trial that the duo prosecuted together that Jensen said was perhaps the most emotionally taxing in her long career: the homicide of a little girl named Naomi Jones.

Jensen still keeps a photo of the 12-year-old on her desk.

"I think it's because all homicides are devastating and they are tragic and they break families, but there is something unique and so sad about a 12-year-old little girl who is kidnapped and raped and tossed in a body of water," Jensen said. "Just something very emotional, I guess, goes along with a child."

Robert Howard was convicted in August 2021 of first-degree murder in Naomi's 2017 death after Jensen and Myers proved to the jury that Howard kidnapped the girl from an apartment complex, choked her to death and dumped her body in a creek.

On Thursday, the Escambia County Commission issued a proclamation thanking Jensen and Myers for their work on the Howard case on behalf of the community.

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"I'll be honest with you. This is a very thankless job," Jensen told the News Journal in an interview Thursday afternoon. "People expect us to work the hours that we work because we do prosecute murder cases. We're supposed to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the job done, and sure, we get thank you cards, we get flowers. We get an occasional nice gesture, but to actually be recognized - and I think we are the first prosecutors to get recognized by the Board of County Commissioners - it is really kind of overwhelming."

Now in her new role as chief assistant state attorney, Jensen will help oversee the strategies behind all of the other assistant state attorneys' prosecutions, as well as perform other administrative duties.

It will be up to Myers to face down alleged murderers in the courtroom. He said he's up for the challenge.

"I think that there are just some people who feel called to serve, and I think you would agree," Myers said, speaking to Jensen. "I think that we feel like we are serving the community and trying to do our small part in trying to make it a better place to live."

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at colinwarrenhicks@pnj.com or 850-435-8680.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Prosecutor Bridgette Jensen honored for work on Naomi Jones case

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