Girlfriend in murder-for-hire plot gets 15 years in prison

Wendy Annette Moore, 37, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in a plot to kill a Charleston-area woman.

Wendy Moore is taking her secrets with her to prison as she begins a 15-year sentence for her role in trying to carry out a murder-for-hire plot.

Moore, 38, declined to tell U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel why and how she became involved in the scheme to have her boyfriend and former boss Chris Latham's estranged wife killed last year.

Latham was a bank executive going through a contentious divorce with his wife, Nancy Cannon, a real estate agent and S.C. Education Lottery commissioner.

Moore, wearing a striped jail uniform and her blond hair grown longer than in her mug shot taken more than a year ago, spoke publicly for the first time during her sentencing hearing Wednesday in a downtown Charleston federal courtroom.

Family members spoke in support of Moore, who they portrayed as a good mother with a troubled past.

Moore's daughter, Samantha, 19, spoke of her mother as a provider who struggled to put herself though school in order to give her children a better life.

"I understand crime and punishment, but every day she's in jail we don't get to hug her," she said. "She's suffering a great deal, but we are, too." Moore spoke of the loss she's felt, including the time away from her children.

"I haven't touched or hugged my children in 485 days," Moore said. "I'm so sorry for the pain I have caused them."

Moore also spoke about her faith and the Bible sessions she's been leading in jail.

"There has been something that has come out of this," she told the judge.

Rhett DeHart, one of the assistant U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case, said it was a hard and sad case and they were pleased with the results.

Moore also will have to serve three years of supervised release following her sentence.

Her attorneys requested Moore be placed in a facility in Marianna, Fla.

Moore could have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Latham was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison, the maximum penalty on his aiding and abetting conviction.

Gergel said it would not be fair to have a large disparity in Moore's and Latham's sentences, despite Moore being convicted of all four counts against her, while Latham was found guilty of one count.

During her tearful statement, Moore said she is praying for Cannon and her two daughters.

"I'm sorry they've felt discomfort in the last year," Moore told the court. "I wish I could take those feelings away from you."

Cannon called those sentiments hollow during her statement to the judge.

She said Moore had the opportunity to ease some of her pain by revealing the secrets buried deep between Moore and Latham, who were romantically involved during the scheme.

"If she wants to take away my pain, tell me why," Cannon said. "Tell me all the things you are tiptoeing around. She's not willing to do that."

During the hearing, Gergel asked Moore's attorney, David Aylor, to reveal the mastermind of the plan if, as he contended, Moore was not the leader.

"I'm fully confident there's more to the story all of us have heard," Gergel said to Aylor. "I'm all ears."

Aylor said he could not answer those questions and could only refer to what has already been said in trial about the case.

"I wish I was in a different position to present more," Aylor told the judge.

Following Wednesday's hearing, Aylor said there are appellate issues at stake that prevented him from providing any new details about the case during sentencing.

When asked what appellate issues there are in the case, Aylor declined to comment.

"There are still so many unanswered questions," Cannon said following the hearing.

While some insight may have provided some comfort to Cannon, she said she still has hope in finding out how and why a woman she'd never met wanted her dead.

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.