Former banker's murder-for-hire trial to begin Monday
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The murder-for-hire trial of a former Charleston banker and his alleged cohorts is set to begin Monday.
A final pre-trial conference was held Thursday between the case's many attorneys and the judge presiding over the case. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Chris Latham is on trial for allegedly plotting to kill his ex-wife. Investigators say his supposed mistress, Wendy Moore, created "hit packages" for her former husband and business partner, Samuel Yenawine, Aaron Wilkinson, and Rachel Palmer.
According to court documents filed this week, the witness list includes Mr. Latham's ex-wife of 24 years, Nancy Latham, and their 19-year-old daughter Emily.
Mr. Latham has been in police custody since August, when he was denied bond after being taken into custody by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the town of Salem.
He pleaded not guilty to murder-for-hire and racketeering charges, but was denied bond.
The plot started to come unraveled during a traffic stop in April, when 39-year-old Wilkinson told officers he was in town to kill Mrs. Latham. The tale Wilkinson told spread across several years and states and implicated three other people.
According to investigators, the contract killing that put Yenawine and Moore together again was worth about $35,000.
Since then, Wilkinson's former cellmate in a Kentucky prison, Yenawine, as well as Moore, and Palmer have been arrested.
However, Yenawine was found dead in a Georgetown County Detention Center cell.
Medical examiners said he died by hanging himself. Yenawine's attorney has debated that conclusion, saying his client had maintained his innocence and had been upbeat shortly before his death.
In a July hearing, Mrs. Latham said in an affidavit that she believed her estranged husband was involved in the plot to kill her. She said the motive was money.
"He had an affair with his secretary and got caught, and she hired people to kill me to keep me from testifying about it," Mrs. Latham said in a July 12 affidavit.
Moore once served as Mr. Latham's secretary at Bank of America, but Mrs. Latham says that professional relationship turned personal, romantic and serious, which she pointed out in court documents was a serious violation of company policy that could cost them both their jobs.
For Mr. Latham, that could mean losing a mid-six-figure salary and a $3,000-a-month house on the beach, a home Mrs. Latham says he was secretly sharing with his secretary. The Sullivan's Island beach rental has turned into quite a home, according to Mrs. Latham, who says in the affidavit that Moore's children and parents moved into the house with the new couple.
Mrs. Latham argued that she has no meaningful income, adding that she is trying to rely on the court-ordered $5,500 per month in child support and an additional $3,000 per month for living costs.
Mrs. Latham has also filed a civil suit in the case, claiming extreme emotional distress. Her attorney said the civil suit was also filed to protect evidence in the case.