Desperate G.I., wife hired man to shoot him: cops
by Chrisena Coleman
Left, Jonathan Aponte following his graduation from Ft. Sill, Okalahoma. Aponte allegedly hired someone to shoot him so he would not have to return to Iraq.
A Bronx soldier who lost his stomach for war allegedly hired a hit man to shoot him in the leg so he wouldn't have to go back to Iraq, prosecutors said yesterday.
But 20-year-old Jonathan Aponte's plan backfired when cops began grilling him and his wife about the injury he suffered Monday while home on leave.
Now Aponte and his wife, Alexandra Gonzalez, who hoped the gunplay would bring them more time together, face being separated by prison terms if convicted.
Both were charged in Bronx Criminal Court with conspiracy and falsely reporting an incident, and Gonzalez faces additional counts. Aponte's mother and his attorney, however, are hoping the courts will show mercy for an Army soldier desperate to avoid returning to the front line…
"I believe the shooting was a cry for help. It had to be," said Gwen Aponte, whose son has served 10 months in Iraq and just had his tour extended for six more. After being shot in the leg at Bronx Blvd. and E. Gun Hill Road, Aponte told cops the gunman was "an unknown male."
As doctors at Weiler/Einstein Hospital treated Aponte, police questioned the only witness to the shooting, Gonzalez, and the story began to unravel, prosecutors said.
"My wife and I were at her cousin's house and I jokingly said to her that I should get shot in the leg so that it can buy me some extra time away from Iraq," Aponte confessed to police, prosecutors said.
He said Gonzalez knew a man named Felix who would carry out the shooting for $500, officials said. She sent him a text message with the time and location. All Aponte had to do was stand there and suffer the pain.
"I smoked a cigarette and kept my eyes closed because I did not want to see it coming," Aponte told police. "Next thing I know, I was shot in the knee."
If convicted, Gonzalez faces a stiffer sentence than her husband – up to 25 years behind bars – because of additional charges of assault, conspiracy and harassment.
But Aponte's attorney described the bizarre incident as a "horrible situation of desperation" by a soldier who needs treatment for posttraumatic stress instead of prosecution.
"He had seen all the horrors of war. He was part of a unit that went door to door with weapons in 120- to 130-degree heat," attorney Marty Goldberg said. "He had seen the death and destruction that comes with serving in the war."
Gwen Aponte said her son has been dramatically changed by the carnage he has witnessed in Iraq and that prosecutors should take that into consideration.
"This is a changed young man who has seen death right in front of his face," the mother said.
Justice Cynthia Kern released the couple on their own recognizance.
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