Jury returns: Moore guilty on all counts, Latham guilty on 1 - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Jury returns: Moore guilty on all counts, Latham guilty on 1

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – After more than 10 hours of deliberations, the jury found Wendy Moore guilty on all charges and found Chris Latham guilty of one charge.

On the charges of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and the gun charge, the jury could not come to a decision. He was found guilty of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire.

Moore was facing 30 years in prison if she was found guilty on all counts; Latham faced 25 years. The interstate commerce conviction carries a 10-year sentence.

"Every verdict is a surprise to some degree. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know what decision the jury is going to come out with. We're very disappointed. You have to respect the system, the decision they came to," Moore's attorney David Aylor said.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date.

Earlier in the evening, the jury trying the murder-for-hire case said they could not reach a decision in the conspiracy charge of one of the defendants. The judge presiding over the case issued an Allen charge, directing the jury to go back in and deliberate again and try to come to a verdict.

Before the jury announced their deadlock, they had asked for clarification on the conspiracy charge. Conspiracy has six subsets that all have to be met, and the jury asked if they had to reach a unanimous decision on each.

The judge told them they did, which led to the deadlock.

The jury also said that if they could not convict on the conspiracy charge, they could not convict Latham on the fourth charge, the weapons charge. However, they have reached a decision on all other charges related to Latham.

As the verdicts were read, Moore and Latham hung their heads, but the Latham women -- Nancy, Madison and Emily -- breathed a sigh of relief.

Afterward, Nancy Latham said she was grateful for the help from law enforcement through the entire ordeal.

"The fact that my kids are now safe, I expect they will sleep very well tonight. We look forward to starting our lives again," she said.

However, the story is far from over. 

Because the jury could not reach a verdict in two of the charges against Latham, the case could be retried again at a later date with a new jury. 

"It was a relief but there still may be some things pending," Nancy Latham said.

 

In the jury's hands

Deliberations began Wednesday morning in the murder-for-hire case of Chris Latham and Wendy Moore. Latham and Moore are accused of conspiring with three other people to kill Latham's ex-wife. Prosecutors said Latham's motive was money; he stood to pay out millions of dollars in long-term alimony and child support.

Shortly after being charged by the judge with their instructions, the jury messenger returned to the court to ask for an easel and an index of all the exhibits presented in the case.

Since then, the court recessed for lunch. According to reports, the jury dined on Poogan's Porch for lunch and formulated two questions for the judge.

The first request was to see the print logs for Moore and Latham, which will show what was printed and when from the computers at Bank of America. The second request was for transcripts of the jailhouse phone calls between the defendants.

However, a transcript of those calls does not exist. The files will be burned to a CD for the jury to hear in chambers.

The last excerpt from those calls was heard Tuesday afternoon during the prosecution's rebuttal. In one call Latham tells Moore: "All you need is the seed of doubt."

Several days earlier, the court heard several excerpts from the calls in which Latham tells Moore to "hang tight" because he was putting the pieces together and that they need to find someone to "start the car" because they've been "cleaning the plug wires."

Much of the conversation between the defendants was coded, but in one call Moore asks Latham to make sure that her children don't suffer. In another, Latham tells Moore that they will be together forever.

The jury will have to decide the fate of both Latham and Moore.

Two of the other alleged co-conspirators, Aaron Wilkinson and Rachel Palmer, reached proffer agreements with prosecutors, giving them a reduced sentence in exchange for information and testimony.

Only Wilkinson testified in the trial.

He is also the man who tipped police off to the entire plot to kill Nancy Latham and implicated Moore, Latham, and his cohort Samuel Yenawine. According to Wilkinson, he and Yenawine were called to Charleston by Moore to take care of Nancy Latham because she was creating problems for the new couple.

After his arrest, Yenawine hanged himself in a Georgetown County jail cell. His cellmate testified that Yenawine wrestled with the decision for a day before writing a letter of apology to his current girlfriend, Palmer.

Wilkinson, Moore, Yenawine, and Palmer were arrested in April 2013. Latham was not arrested until several months later in August.

Evidence in the trial centered on the contents of a hit package found in a North Charleston motel where Wilkinson and his wife were staying. FBI agents testified that they were able to trace the contents of all but one of the items in the package back to their origin.

However, former FBI computer forensics experts working for the defense pointed to holes in the logic that was used to link Moore and Latham to the hit package.

Ultimately, the case lacks fingerprints and DNA evidence that Moore and Latham handled anything in the package, but there was a positive handwriting match to Moore on a piece of paper.

The rest of the evidence came from computer records and the testimony of Wilkinson, a man who confessed to using 1.5 grams of heroin a day at the time of his arrest.

Defense attorneys tried to show that Wilkinson changed his story repeatedly when he was being interviewed by investigators gathering evidence against the rest of the alleged co-conspirators.

But prosecutors argued that the basics of his story matched the behaviors of a group of conspirators trying to cover up their actions.


  • Ava Wilhite

    Email: awilhite@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile




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