Aaron Wilkinson sentenced to 4 years
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The man who tipped police off to a murder-for-hire plot that spanned two states and targeted the wife of a former banking executive was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to 4 years in prison.
In federal court, Aaron Wilkinson was told he would spend the next 4 years behind bars, but the court said it was going to try and send him back to Kentucky where his family is located. Judge Richard Gergel said Wilkinson averted disaster by turning his back on the plot.
Gergel went on to say that Wilkinson actually saved the conspirators from the electric chair, adding that they would have all faced the death penalty if Mrs. Latham had been killed.
Wilkinson will also undergo 500 hours of mental health treatment as part of his sentence and be on probation for three years after he is released.
Gergel said that the sentences Wilkinson faces in Kentucky for violating probation will run concurrently to the federal sentence handed down Wednesday.
During the sentencing hearing, Nancy and Emily Latham addressed the court, saying they felt Wilkinson was truly remorseful and did what he could to stop the plot to murder the former Mrs. Latham.
The two women said Wilkinson obstructed the plot and came up with a ruse that prevented the plan from being carried out. Emily Latham, who is on Spring Break currently, said the timing of the hearing made her think about what her life would be like if the plot had been carried out.
She said she could have lost everything important in her life.
Wilkinson also spoke at the hearing, saying after spending eight months in a Charleston County jail cell, he got angry and didn't want to cooperate with the investigation. But then Thanksgiving came along, he said, and he thought about what that could have meant for the Latham family if Nancy had been killed.
He said it broke his heart, and that's why he wanted to see the case through even though it meant he would end up in prison, too. Wilkinson said Nancy Latham's forgiveness was worth it.
Nancy Latham's husband, Chris, and his girlfriend, Wendy Moore, were both convicted earlier this year. 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.
There were two other people charged in the conspiracy, Rachel Palmer and Samuel Yenawine. There was a motion filed Tuesday for Palmer asking that she be released from house arrest. She has not yet been to trial.
Yenawine took his own life in a Georgetown County jail cell months before the trial began.