Inside a manila envelope, a pile of papers outlined information about Nancy Latham - a photo of her Mount Pleasant home, a photograph of her on the South Carolina Lottery Commission website, a map of the area of her home indicating security gate locations, a list including Nancy's age, the car she drove, her license plate number, that her daughter was on spring break from college, and where Nancy Latham would be in the days to come.
Chris Latham, 51, sat feet away from his ex-wife as a defendant in the federal case that accuses him and his girlfriend at the time, Wendy Annette Moore, 37, of a murder-for-hire plot meant to get rid of Nancy Latham, according to prosecutors.
The federal trial against Chris Latham and Moore began Monday morning in the U.S. District Court at 85 Broad St. in downtown Charleston.
Among the alleged hitmen are Moore's ex-husband, who prosecutors described as the "hired gun," Samuel Yenawine, 38, and Aaron Russell Wilkinson, 40, both of Louisville, Ky. Yenawine committed suicide in June following his arrest while jailed at the Georgetown County Detention Center, according to authorities.
During the first day of trial, prosecutors presented the hit package, records of money transfers between Moore and Yenawine and between Yenawine and Wilkinson and purchasing records that prosecutors said shows Moore bought a "drop phone" in order to communicate with Yenawine solely about the alleged scheme.
Prosecutors also presented a recorded phone conversation between Wilkinson and Yenawine that corroborated the existence of a murder-for-hire plot, according to federal authorities.
Wilkinson first told investigators about the alleged scheme in April 2013 after being arrested on the East Side of Charleston for driving with a suspended license. He told police he was trying to buy heroin when they stopped him, according to authorities.
Bentley Price, Moore's attorney, called Wilkinson the prosecution's star witness but questioned his credibility during opening statements.
"They take a convicted felon, a heroin addict's statements," Price said. "And they begin their investigation."
Price said Wilkinson has changed his story several times and David Aylor, also representing Moore, said Wilkinson is a liar.
"There was a lot of money at stake," Williams said during opening statements.
"He had the money. He had the motive. He had the malice," Williams said.
Defense attorneys said Chris Latham was ready for the divorce and wanted it to be over with and therefore would have no motive to hinder the final divorce hearing.
But prosecutors told the jury they'd show them an overwhelming amount of evidence to prove the alleged scheme.
"It was nothing short of a premeditated act of violence to have her (Nancy) killed," Williams said.
Monday, she sat on the front row of the courtroom with one of her daughters. S.C. Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, and the state's Speaker of the House sat beside Nancy's daughter. He and his wife, Cathy, are godparents to Nancy Latham's daughters.
"I'm here to give emotional support to our goddaughters," Harrell told The Post and Courier. "It's a particularly difficult time for them."
If convicted, the defendants would not be sentenced immediately following the verdict. A judge would sentence them following the completion of a report about the defendants, typically a few months later.
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