Two arraigned in murder-for-hire plot

Wendy Annette Moore, 37,is charged with being part of a plot to kill Nancy Latham of Mount Pleasant. She was booked into the Charleston County jail April 8, 2013. Al Cannon Detention Center photo ¬

Two women snared in a federal murder-for-hire investigation pleaded not guilty Tuesday to allegations that they plotted to kill Mount Pleasant real estate agent Nancy Latham.

Wendy Annette Moore, 37, of Sullivan’s Island, and Rachel Palmer, 36, of Louisville, Ky., are among four suspects charged in connection with the alleged scheme.

Dressed in a striped jail jumpsuit, Moore looked haggard from her time behind bars. Neither she nor Palmer, who was dressed in street clothes, addressed the court beyond answering yes or no to Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant’s questions.

Latham, also the treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission, attended the hearing but declined the judge’s offer to make a statement.

Moore’s attorney, David Aylor, said his client maintains her innocence and is eager to be reunited with her three children, who are in the care of relatives. Moore has been locked up at the Charleston County jail without bail since her arrest last month.

Prosecutors during the proceeding questioned where Moore is getting money to pay her legal team, which consists of Aylor and attorney Bentley Price. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart said authorities are concerned the money is coming from a current or potential co-defendant in the case.

Aylor told the judge that friends and family were financially supporting her defense efforts.

Palmer is out of jail but remains on home detention at her mother’s house, her travel restricted to work, court-ordered substance-abuse counseling, legal hearings and other necessary business, according to court documents.

Her attorney, David Lambertus of Kentucky, said she had nothing to say to reporters after the hearing.

The two women face charges of 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. Moore also is charged with solicitation of murder for hire.

Also charged in the plot are Louisville residents Russell Wilkinson, 39, and Samuel Yenawine, 38. Yenawine is Moore’s ex-husband and Palmer’s boyfriend.

Nancy Latham is in the midst of a bitter divorce from her estranged husband, Chris Latham, a Bank of America executive who is vice president of Spoleto Festival USA.

In motions in the divorce case and in a separate civil lawsuit, she has accused her husband of plotting with Moore to kill her. Moore is Chris Latham’s personal assistant and reportedly his live-in girlfriend as well, according to court documents.

Chris Latham’s attorneys have denied those allegations, and he has not been charged with a crime. In court motions, they have insisted that he is in fear for his life because he has allegedly been targeted for harm by his wife and her half brother, a convicted triple-murderer who is out on parole.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.