Trial set to begin for Chris Latham, ex-banker accused of murder-for-hire plot against wife
The trial of a former bank executive, accused of plotting a hit against his estranged wife, is expected to begin in Charleston Monday.
Christopher Latham, 51, and Wendy Annette Moore, 37, who was Latham's girlfriend at the time the allegations were made, will face trial in federal court.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks in the case that alleges that Latham was involved in the conspiracy to hire individuals to kill his estranged wife, Nancy, in April 2013.
Also charged in the alleged plot were Moore's ex-husband, 38-year-old Samuel Yenawine of Louisville, Ky., Yenawine's girlfriend, Rachel Palmer, 36, and Aaron Russell Wilkinson, 39, both of Louisville.
Yenawine hanged himself June 25 inside his cell at the Georgetown County jail. The others remain in jail.
During a pre-trial conference last week, co-defendants Wilkinson and Palmer were not named as defendants in this trial.
Prosecutors revealed during jury selection last month that Wilkinson could be called as a witness for the case, a likely indication that he has reached a deal with prosecutors.
Wilkinson exposed the alleged plot in a lengthy confession to Charleston police and federal investigators in April, according to court records, setting the stage for the arrest of Chris Latham and three other co-defendants.
Chris and Nancy Latham were going through a contentious divorce when he was accused in the alleged murder-for-hire plot against her. Wilkinson told police about the alleged plans after he was pulled over by police on Charleston's East Side while trying to buy heroin in April, according to court documents
Last Wednesday, Chris Latham's parents, Dot and Jerry Latham, drove from Greenwood to visit their son in jail, where he has been detained for the last six months.
Dot Latham said it's been a difficult time since her son was arrested. During a recent visit to the jail, she flipped through a black three-ring binder full of newspaper clippings about her son.
"I'm saving everything. One day, I'll give him this and he can throw it in the trash or he can read it. It's everything that's happened," she said.
One 2006 Post and Courier article highlighted Chris Latham's work with Spoleto Festival USA, for which he served on the board, and featured a photo of Chris and Nancy Latham with their two daughters. "My heart breaks for what could have been," Dot Latham said as she looked at the photo.
Prayer has helped the family prepare for the trial, she said. "We pray for truth and justice. That's all we ask for is for truth and justice."
Nancy Latham is also seeking truth, according to an interview with The Post and Courier in August following Chris Latham's arrest.
At the time, Nancy Latham said she was grateful for the work the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the State Law Enforcement Division and local law enforcement did on the case, and that she felt vindicated after months of listening to her husband's attorneys question her credibility. "I have looked forward to truth being known," she said.
Nancy, a former state lottery official and a real estate agent, is expected to testify for the prosecution.
Chris Latham and Moore were charged with conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire, use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
If convicted, Chris Latham faces a potential maximum of 25 years in prison, if the judge were to run the maximum sentences consecutively.
Moore was also charged with solicitation of murder for hire, which carries a maximum of five years in prison.
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.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.