From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
Charleston County, SC -
Day one of the case against Chris Latham has started.
In opening statements prosecutors said up until April 8th, then Nancy Latham had no idea there was a plan to kill her.
Related: Former prominent banker heads to trial for alleged murder-for-hire plot
Prosecution claimed the effort was put together by Chris Latham and Wendy Moore, saying Moore contacted "the hired gun" Samuel Yenawine who brought along Aaron Wilkinson for backup. Federal Agents say Wendy Moore gave them $5,000 at a meeting in April and said if they made it look accidental they would get $30,000 and if it was done to make it look like a crime occurred, they would get $20,000.
The defense for both Wendy Moore and Chris Latham says the Prosecution's case is based on what was given to them by Aaron Wilkinson. The defense said Wilkinson is a convicted felon and heroin addict. Wilkinson was offered a plea deal back on January 7th by federal prosecutors to testify in court. The judge Monday morning said the case will take up to 2-weeks.
The former wife of Christopher Latham could not comment on the trial as she entered the Federal Courthouse with her daughter and the attorneys representing Wendy Moore and Chris Latham could not comment on the case as well.
As for Chris Latham, unlike his last court appearance in August when he was denied bond he appeared on Monday in a jacket and tie. He sat with his defense only saying a few words throughout the day.
Federal Prosecutors called on law enforcement to take the stand first. They began with the City of Charleston officer who first pulled over Aaron Wilkinson in April of 2013. The officer said as he was getting things in order to take Wilkinson to jail, Wilkinson wanted to talk about why he was in Charleston, and then began to tell the story about the murder for hire plot.
The officer said he was surprised Wilkinson offered the information so easily. Because of the nature and the alleged crimes crossed state lines between Kentucky and South Carolina, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were then contacted to help investigate and interrogate Wilkinson.
ATF Agents were called to the stand who said when they heard the story and gathered the evidence that included a recorded call from Wilkinson to Samuel Yenawine, they believed it was a creditable threat and then began to take measures to protect Nancy Latham.
Monday in court it was revealed that back on January 9th co-defendant Aaron Wilkinson offered a guilty plea. About Wilkinson, Latham's defense Charleston Attorney Steve Schmutz said the prosecution is using evidence and testimony received from a convicted felon.
Schmutz said Wilkinson is an admitted heroin addict who was driving that night on Charleston's Eastside looking for drugs. Schmutz said when police found a loaded gun and ammunition in Wilkinson's car that is when he manufactured a lot of the story about the murder for hire.
He said Wilkinson knew he could face 15-years if he was charged for having a firearm as a convicted felon. With a plea Schmutz said Wilkinson will have the most serious charges dismissed if he testifies for the prosecution.
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