Alleged co-conspirator's cellmate testifies in murder-for-hire case

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The cellmate of a man who hanged himself after being caught up in a murder-for-hire plot in Charleston told the court what he knew about the plot Thursday afternoon.

Tyler Tudor was Samuel Yenawine's cellmate at the Georgetown County Detention Center and was even with the man accused of helping put together a murder plot to kill former banker Chris Latham's ex-wife.

According to Tudor, he and 39-year-old Yenawine spoke daily before the Kentucky man hanged himself in their shared jail cell. Tudor told the jury that Yenawine said a friend of his owed him a favor and decided to work it off by being his ex-wife's hit man.

Then that friend got caught in Charleston with heroin and a loaded gun, which led to details of the murder-for-hire plot being revealed and Yenawine's arrest. Tudor said he never knew the name of the friend or the woman Yenawine said was fronting the money for the case, but he knew it wasn't Yenawine's current girlfriend, Rachel Palmer.

Palmer was also arrested as a co-conspirator in the case.

Tudor told jurors that Yenawine said the plot revolved around his ex-wife's new banker boyfriend, his ex-wife who worked for a lottery, and Wilkinson - the triggerman. As time went on, Latham's freedom bothered Yenawine, Tudor said.

He couldn't understand why Latham had not been arrested. {}

But Yenawine told Tudor that he knew the banker's ex-wife and the banker were in a legal battle that had a lot of money tied up. That bothered Wendy Moore, Yenawine's ex-wife.

Days before Yenawine's death, the two men were moved into the jail's D-block and took away Yenawine's Bible, something else that stressed out Yenawine because he had become religious in the jail and urged Tudor to pray daily.

On the day he died, Yenawine was back and forth on killing himself, Tudor said, adding that at first, Yenawine had been upbeat about the case, but as time went on, he felt like he was going to spend more time in prison.

Four days after arriving in the new cell block, Yenawine hanged himself. Tudor was by his side, he said.

Yenawine wrote a letter to his girlfriend, Palmer, apologizing for everything, Tudor said. That note was handed from Tudor to another inmate, according to Tudor, instead of getting it to Yenawine's attorney or investigators.


Fingerprint, handwriting experts testify in contract killing case

After six days of testimony broken up by a federal holiday and a winter storm, prosecutors are close to resting its case murder-for-hire case against a former banker and his girlfriend.

On Thursday, prosecutors introduced the court to a host of experts on handwriting, DNA, and fingerprints from the State law Enforcement Division as they built their case against Chris Latham and Wendy Moore. Prosecutors say Moore and Mr. Latham conspired with Moore's ex-husband, his former cellmate, and current girlfriend to kill Mr. Latham's ex-wife.

The jury learned Thursday morning through a cell tower expert that Moore and her ex-husband, Samuel Yenawine, were in the same general area in North Charleston when Yenawine and alleged conspirator-turned-state's witness first arrived in Charleston, and then again on Sullivan's Island.

SLED handwriting expert Joyce Lauterbach testified that she examined an envelope with three writing samples on it; the envelope was found inside the hit package. She found that there were several similarities and dissimilarities in the writing of Wilkinson and Mr. Latham.

Nancy's Latham's phone number and address had been written on the envelope and after one analysis, Lauterbach determined that Mr. Latham has written the address and Wilkinson had written the phone number.

Then Lauterbach said Wilkinson confessed to writing the address.

Another assessment led her to the conclusion that she could not conclusively determine who had written which part of the envelope.

On the back of the envelope, the message "two blocks down, past Dunleavey's and the post office" had been written. Lauterbach was able to definitively say that the writing matched Moore's.

A DNA analyst for SLED told the court that there was no usable DNA on the hit package to link Wilkinson, Moore, or Mr. Latham to it, but she did say that there were three distinct DNA profiles.

Late Thursday afternoon, jurors heard from Thomas Darnell, a fingerprint expert.

Darnell told jurors that he checked the hit package, the revolver and the box of ammunition found in Wilkinson's car for prints. On the hit package, he found two sets of prints belonging to Yenawine and Wilkinson.

The court went into its afternoon recess before he talked about the findings on the gun and the box of ammunition.

Prosecutors are close to wrapping up their case. It's expected that another ATF agent will testify all day Friday.