Charleston murder-for-hire trial to resume Monday, defense presenting witnesses
In 2012, Wendy Moore told a work colleague she had posted Nancy Latham's phone number on a men's dating website, according to Friday testimony in federal court.
Moore's boss at the time, Chris Latham, was married to Nancy Latham and they were going through a contentious divorce, according to prosecutors.
Moore, 37, and Chris Latham, 51, are both accused of a murder-for-hire plot targeting Nancy Latham, who now goes by Cannon since her divorce.
Their trial began last week in downtown Charleston. Moore was Latham's administrative assistant at U.S. Trust, part of Bank of America. Chris was a bank executive and the two have been romantically involved.
Also charged in this case are Moore's ex-husband Samuel Yenawine, 38, of Louisville, Ky., the alleged hitman who committed suicide last year after his arrest, and Yenawine's former prison buddy, Aaron Wilkinson, who pleaded guilty last month to aiding and abetting murder-for-hire. Wilkinson testified for the prosecution last week.
Moore is accused of paying Yenawine $5,000 for the alleged hit on Cannon's life.
The defense called Tonya Scavuzzo, a Bank of America employee and friend of Chris Latham, to the stand Friday. She testified that Chris Latham rarely carried cash and would often forget his wallet when they'd go to lunch.
During her cross-examination by the U.S. Attorney's Office, she said Moore once told her she'd posted Cannon's phone number on a men's dating website and instructed her not to tell Chris Latham, who was still married to Cannon at the time, she said.
"He didn't say anything," Scavuzzo said when questioned about how Chris Latham reacted to hearing that information.
The first attorney hired by Chris Latham in his divorce, Natalie Bluestein, and a paralegal in her office also testified for Latham's defense. She told the jury while she was involved in the case, she was working to present information that Cannon had committed adultery.
Earlier this week, Cannon testified and said she did not have an affair.
Prosecutors had argued against defense attorneys being allowed to even question Cannon about any alleged affair on her part.
But District Judge Richard Gergel said prosecutors opened that door of questioning when they told the jury during opening statements that Chris Latham's motive was money that he stood to lose in their divorce. Gergel said defense attorneys have a right to mount a defense against that statement.
Moore and Latham's defense attorneys have said Cannon was not going to receive a large amount of money from the divorce because of alleged adultery on her part.
Gergel allowed the questioning earlier this week but warned defense attorneys it was a slippery slope.
"You're playing with fire here. If the jury thinks you're saying she deserved it, that's a bad defense," he said before the jury entered the courtroom.
On Friday, Bluestein testified that before she left the divorce case, it looked like Chris Latham would pay about $7,500 in permanent alimony and their marital assets would be split.
Chris Latham was making about $650,000 a year at the time, according to prosecutors.
The federal prosecution called their last witness on Friday, a federal agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, Agent Joseph Callahan, who testified regarding the alleged timeline of events involving the scheme.
Prosecutors also played two more jail phone recordings between Latham and Moore following her arrest, but before he had been taken into custody, in which Latham tells Moore he is there for her.
"You need to know it's you and me forever," Chris Latham said. "One day we're going to make that official, OK?"
Latham and Moore searched for and printed documents that ended up in a hit package recovered by investigators, according to prosecutors. That packet included maps of Cannon's home, photos of her home, photos of her and information, according to prosecutors who said they used the bank's network records.
Latham and Moore's bank printers and Moore's laptop were never recovered, according to federal agent's testimony. During that testimony, prosecutors presented another jail phone call when Latham and Moore spoke about their printers, which they said had gone missing. They also said maybe the printers had been stolen.
"You know our office is black," Chris Latham said.
During the cross examination of Callahan, defense attorneys questioned their policy of not recording interviews on audio or visual and also questioned Wilkinson's testimony in court and what he had told investigators after his arrest and the reliability of those statements.
The trial will resume on Monday. Latham's attorneys told the judge they likely have three witnesses left to testify. Moore's attorneys said they have between three and five expert witnesses who will testify.
It remains unclear if Latham or Moore will take the stand before the defense rests.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.