Chris Latham sentenced to 10 years in prison on interstate commerce conviction

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The former Bank of America executive caught up in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his wife was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.

The sentence was handed down to Chris Latham several months after he was convicted of using interstate commerce to aid in the commission of a murder-for-hire plot.

That is the maximum sentence Latham could receive for the conviction.

The jury could not reach a decision on three other charges he faced for conspiracy and weapons. Those charges were dropped in April.

During the sentencing hearing, Latham's attorney told the judge his client was broke and could not pay the maximum $250,000 fine. Instead, he will pay $1,500 in restitution and a $100 fee. Once he has served his sentence, he will be on three years of supervised release.

The sentencing comes the day before Latham's first anniversary in the Charleston County jail. His attorney asked that the time served there be used as his sentence.

But that motion was denied. He will spend the next 10 years in a maximum security facility in Pensacola, Fla.

Three people spoke on Latham's behalf during the hearing, including his parents who asked that he be released into their custody. They described him as a victim in the case.

It was the first time Latham spoke publicly since the case began.

For several minutes, Latham addressed the court, saying he was 100 percent innocent and could not come to terms with the jury's decision to find him guilty. He told the court that he would never harm his family or let harm come to them.

The words were hollow, especially for his daughter Madison, who said fathers were supposed to protect their daughters from the evils of the world.

"My father is the evil in the world," she said.

It was Madison and Latham's ex-wife Nancy included in a photo found in the hit package used by Samuel Yenawine and Rachel Palmer. While Latham did not talk about the contents of the hit packet, his ex-wife did.

Nancy Latham held up the photo of her and Madison found in the hit packet and ripped it in half. She said that's all that had to be done to leave their children out of the murder plot.

Instead, the emotional and psychological toll lingers for the three women in vivid nightmares of being killed.

His co-defendant and former girlfriend, Wendy Moore, will be sentenced on Wednesday.

The case against Latham and Moore came undone when one of the co-conspirators was stopped in downtown Charleston on drug charges and confessed to police the reason he was in the city.

That man, Aaron Wilkinson, took a plea deal to turn on Latham, Moore, Samuel Yenawine and Rachel Palmer.

Moore was convicted on all counts against her. Yenawine hanged himself in a Georgetown County jail cell before the case went to trial. Palmer's attorneys this month filed a request to join the pretrial diversion program. And Wilkinson is serving another sentence in prison, but he was sent back to his home state of Kentucky to be near his family.

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 lacked 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.