Wilkinson, 1 of 4 suspects in murder-for-hire plot, pleads not guilty on four federal counts
Russell Wilkinson, one of four suspects in the Nancy Latham murder-for-hire plot, was arraigned this afternoon on four federal counts that could land him behind bars for more than 30 years.
Wilkinson, 39, of Louisville, Ky., said little during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston, and he did not object to Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant’s decision to keep him locked up while the case proceeds.
A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf, though Wilkinson has implicated himself in the crime and provided authorities with a detailed account of how the plot transpired.
Latham, a Mount Pleasant real estate agent who is treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission, watched the proceeding from the gallery but did not address the court. She was accompanied to the courthouse by a private security guard and declined to speak with reporters afterward.
The plot to kill her unraveled when Wilkinson revealed details of the alleged scheme after he was pulled over by Charleston police on April 5 and found to have a .32-caliber pistol and ammunition inside his car, police have said.
Also charged in the case are Samuel Yenawine, 38, of Louisville; his girlfriend, Rachel Palmer, 36, of Louisville, Ky.; and his ex-wife, 37-year-old Wendy Annette Moore, who lives in the Charleston area.
Yenawine appeared in federal court Monday for a detention hearing. A judge opted to postpone the proceeding and keep Yenawine behind bars while his Kentucky lawyer, William Butler, arranged for a local attorney to assist him in Charleston.
Butler filed paperwork late Monday indicating he had secured the services of Charleston lawyer Adam Young to assist him with the case. Butler said this morning he intends to remain lead counsel on the case.
The four defendants are charged with conspiracy and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Moore and Yenawine also are charged with solicitation of murder for hire. Yenawine and Wilkinson face additional charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Marchant told Wilkinson he faces up to 35 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if he is convicted of the four counts with which he has been charged.
Latham is in the midst of a bitter divorce from her estranged husband, Chris Latham, a Bank of America executive who is vice president of Spoleto Festival USA and a board member of the Trident Technical College Foundation.
In motions in the divorce case and in a separate civil lawsuit, she has accused her husband of plotting with his live-in girlfriend — identified as Wendy Moore — to have her killed.
Chris Latham’s attorneys have denied those allegations, and he has not been charged with a crime. In court motions, they have insisted he is in fear for his life because he has allegedly been targeted for harm by his wife and her half brother, a convicted triple-murderer who is out on parole.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.