Banker Chris Latham is fighting his estranged wife’s attempts to take away his guns, saying he fears for his life due to threats and vandalism that have occurred during their bitter divorce battle.
In documents filed this week in Charleston County Family Court, Latham maintains it is imperative for him to keep his pistol and concealed-weapons permit because he has been targeted for harm by his wife Nancy and her half brother, a convicted triple-murderer who is out on parole.
“The whole situation is explosive,” his divorce attorney, Robert Rosen, said. “He has every right to be worried.”
But Nancy Latham, a real estate agent and treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission, has insisted she is the one in danger, accusing her estranged husband of plotting with his girlfriend to kill her in a murder-for-hire scheme.
She has asked the court to issue a protective order against her husband and bar him from communicating with their children, keeping guns or holding a concealed-weapons permit.
A Thursday hearing has been scheduled to take up her request and her husband’s competing motion seeking protection from her.
Her attorney, Timothy Madden of Greenville, called Chris Latham’s allegations a “credibility assault” on his wife and “unsubstantiated bull----.”
“If he is in fear for his safety, that has been the result of things he has fabricated in his own mind,” Madden said.
Three people have been arrested in connection with the alleged plot to kill Nancy Latham, but a heavily redacted indictment filed in the case this week indicates there is a fourth defendant as well. That person’s name is blacked out on the indictment, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the identity of the person cannot be revealed until the document is unsealed on Monday.
Chris Latham has not been charged with a crime. But his wife has accused him of being involved in the alleged plot in her request for protection and in a civil lawsuit she had filed against him and three defendants on record: Russell Wilkinson, 39, and Samuel Yenawine, 38, both of Louisville, Ky.; and Wendy Annette Moore, 37, Yenawine’s ex-wife who lives in the Charleston area. Nancy Latham has named Moore as her husband’s live-in girlfriend.
In his response to her request for a protective order, Rosen states that such action is unnecessary because the couple is already subject to an October restraining order that bars them from contacting, harassing or interfering with one another.
Rosen also argues that state law doesn’t give the family court the power to prevent his client from keeping guns, holding a concealed-weapons permit or communicating with his two children.
Furthermore, his motion states, Chris Latham has a right to defend himself against harm, and Nancy Latham has threatened to destroy him financially, placing him “in fear for his life, safety, and his reputation.”
Since the divorce proceeding began, Chris Latham has encountered vandalism of his property, including a December 2011 incident in which someone loosened all the lug nuts on one of his car’s tires, according to court documents.
The motion states that Nancy Latham and her half brother, paroled triple-murderer John Hall Cannon, tried to recruit Moore’s ex-husband to help “destroy or take down” Chris Latham. The ex-husband, Matt Robinson, discussed the matter in a call to Moore that was recorded and placed into evidence in the divorce case.
Robinson, however, stated in a deposition that he made up that story to get Moore to come clean about an affair he suspected she was having with Chris Latham.
Madden said Nancy Latham “categorically denies” any suggestion that she has attempted to harm her husband or damage his property.
The Post and Courier has been unable to reach Cannon for comment.
In a recent affidavit, Chris Latham also alleges that his wife has deceived House Speaker Bobby Harrell and his wife, Cathy, to “use their power and influence to defame me with my clients, prospective clients and other individuals to destroy my career.”
Cathy Harrell is close friends with Nancy Latham, and records suggest the Harrells were siding with her in the divorce. But the couple have insisted they have done nothing to influence the outcome of the Lathams’ contentious case.
Chris Latham had previously challenged the judge appointed to the divorce case on grounds that Bobby Harrell, as speaker, holds sway over how South Carolina judges are picked. A family court judge later issued an opinion that there was no evidence that Harrell influenced the judiciary.
Rosen also questioned Cathy Harrell in a March deposition about texts she sent to Nancy Latham, including a February 2012 message concerning Chris Latham obtaining his concealed-weapons permit.
“Lovely!” Cathy Harrell wrote. “I’ll make sure SLED Chief Mark Keel is aware he is crazy!”
Rosen questioned whether she was “using state influence, SLED, to sick ’em on Chris?”
Cathy Harrell denied that was the case. She said in the deposition that the text “was just a joke” and she never reached out to Keel.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Cathy Harrell never contacted Keel about Chris Latham or the permit.
During the deposition, Rosen also asked Cathy Harrell whether she had talked with her husband about influencing the Family Court in the Latham case. “Oh, my goodness, no,” she replied.
When asked about Chris Latham’s allegations in the court filings, Bobby Harrell responded with a written statement that said:
“Cathy and I are godparents to the children, and of course we will do everything we can to help this family through crisis. People make crazy claims when going through a divorce and this is an example of that. We are disappointed to watch the family go through this, and hope for the children’s sake this difficult time passes soon.”
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.