Investigators first to take stand in murder-for-hire trial

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The murder-for-hire trial against a former banker began Monday morning with testimony from two Charleston law enforcement agents who first came into contact with the man who allegedly explained the entire plot.

In testimony from an ATF agent, the court learned that there were two pay scenarios for Nancy Latham's death. The first, a death that appeared accidental, would have paid $30,000. A shooting death would have paid $20,000, the agent said.

The day started with opening statements that focused on the credibility of 39-year-old Aaron Wilkinson, the man stopped by Charleston police and arrested after police say he admitted to being in a plot to kill Nancy Latham.

Prosecutors are hoping his intimate knowledge of all of the players in the plot will convince jurors of Chris Latham's involvement in the plot. But defense attorneys quickly pointed out that Wilkinson made a plea deal for a shorter prison sentence in exchange for his testimony.

Wilkinson reached a deal that would only put him in prison for 10 years on an aiding and abetting charge.

The first witness of the day was Charleston Police Department officer Daniel Wilson. Wilson stopped Wilkinson last April and found a loaded gun in the car. That's when Wilkinson confessed to being in Charleston as part of a murder plot, Wilson said.

"I'm here to shoot a bitch," Wilson recalled Wilkinson saying while sitting in the back of his patrol car.

The second witness to testify was former Det. Lauren Mulkey, who was Wilson's supervisor at the time of Wilkinson's arrest.

According to Mulkey, she first started talking to Wilkinson's wife, who was in the car at the time but did not appear to have any direct knowledge of the plot. So Mulkey turned her attention to Wilkinson.

Mulkey said during her interview with Wilkinson, he explained how he knew Samuel Yenawine and how he was tricked into driving to Charleston. With that information, she looked into divorce proceedings between the Lathams and found information that at least helped Wilkinson's story.

According to court records, Wilkinson explained to investigators that he had met with a woman in a white SUV at a motel in North Charleston on one trip to Charleston. That's where he picked up a packet of information on Nancy Latham that would help in plotting her murder, documents show.

Mulkey also looked into Chris Latham and found that he was an employee of Bank of America, which is where the white SUV returns.

Wendy Moore, the woman living with Chris Latham who had also been married to Yenawine, drove a white Dodge Durango, Mulkey said Monday. The address listed on the registration was 200 Meeting Street, Mulkey said - that's one of the Bank of America branches in downtown Charleston.

However, nothing Mulkey had uncovered linked Chris Latham to the alleged plot.

And the defense had other problems. According to defense attorneys, the revolver in Wilkinson's car did not match the ammunition officers found. They also asked why Wilkinson was not charged with gun possession since he was a felon.

Mulkey said at the time they considered it more important to guarantee Nancy Latham's safety.

The third witness of the day was ATF special agent Joseph Boykin, who was called in for his 21 years of experience investigating crimes. During his testimony, the contents of the hit package were shown to the court.{}

The package included photos of Nancy Latham, Google Maps of Mount Pleasant with Dunes West circled. There were also photos of Nancy Latham's home and car, and her license plate had been written out.{}

However, investigators said the license plate was wrong by one digit.

Boykin shed a lot of light on the money being sent to Wilkinson and Yenawine for the killing. According to Boykin, investigators found three receipts for MoneyGrams at Chris Latham's home. Two were in Wendy Moore's name and the third was purchased under the alias Kate Morgan.

Moore and Wilkinson also had disposable phones, Boykin said.{}

Moore's was purchased at a Rite Aid on Ben Sawyer Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, and Wilkinson's was purchased at a Walmart in Summerville, he testified.

Jurors also heard a recorded phone call between Wilkinson and Yenawine in which Yenawine asked Wilkinson "how it was going" and told him to dump her body in the water after he had killed her.

Boykin resumes his testimony at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Stay with{}for more updates from the federal courthouse in downtown Charleston.