Emily, Nancy Latham testify in murder-for-hire trial

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Mother and daughter took the stand Friday afternoon in the murder-for-hire trial in which Chris Latham is accused of conspiring to kill his now-ex-wife.

The first of the Latham women to take the stand was 19-year-old Emily, an Elon sophomore with a relationship with her father that Nancy Latham described as good.

During Emily Latham's brief testimony, she described the letter found in the hit package that described her, her mother, and her friend Jake Hartwell, a College of Charleston student who was living with the Latham women after his mother died. Emily Latham told the court that her mother had promised Hartwell's mother she would care for him after her death.

Hartwell was also mentioned in the hit package.

While the college sophomore was away at school, she said her father drove up to visit her and take her to dinner one night and they talked about a guy Chris Latham had met who went to College of Charleston. Emily Latham brought up Hartwell and suggested they meet.

The information was in the hit package.

Nancy Latham told the court she filed for divorce in 2011 and moved from one Dunes West home to another in February 2013. At first, she said she resisted giving her ex-husband her new address, but later had to reveal her new home as her divorce proceedings continued.

Nancy Latham told the court that once Chris Latham knew where she lived, he showed up there to pick up their other daughter, Madison, for her birthday in late March. They were going to a Cirque du Soleil show, but Madison was not that interested in going. While out, Chris Latham asked his youngest daughter for a gate card to the property, but she refused, Nancy Latham said Friday.

Attorneys showed Nancy Latham photos of her home and she identified the cars as belong to her, her daughter and Hartwell. There were also photos she said were taken during a hearing for a trespassing charge on Sullivan's Island.

She said when Chris Latham showed up to pick up their daughter for her birthday, he pulled up across the street from the house, which she thought was weird. She saw him playing on his phone and thought he was texting. However, she said while studying the hit package she was able to recognize photos of her home as taken from her ex-husband's car because she recognized the wood grain interior of his Lexus.

The hit package also contained her lottery commission profile photo as well as a picture of her and Madison that had been torn in half. That photo had been given to the divorce attorney in discovery.

When asked about the handwriting in the hit package, Nancy Latham said the writing bore a remarkable resemblance to Chris Latham's handwriting because he was the only person she knew who always wrote in all capital letters.

Nancy Latham also told the court that Chris Latham had sold a convertible Jaguar for cash and kept about $15,000 from that sale in a personal safe at home. She said the money was in hundred-dollar bills.

Nancy Latham said during a court hearing on Sullivan's Island to deal with trespassing allegations, Chris Latham overheard her talking to her attorney about visiting her father in Conway. According to her, that information showed up in text messaged between alleged co-conspirators.{}

Nancy Latham will return to the stand on Tuesday for cross-examination. Monday is a federal holiday and court is in recess.

The court also heard from two other FBI investigators who confiscated computers, iPhones, and other digital devices used by Chris Latham and Moore. Both agents handle the confiscation and forensic discovery of digital devices.


Star witness returns to the stand

After two days freezing temperatures, ice, road closures, and widespread power outages, life started to return to normal on Friday - and that included the Chris Latham trial warming up once again.

The trial picked up with 39-year-old Aaron Wilkinson's testimony.

Wilkinson is the star witness for the prosecution and an alleged co-conspirator. Since his arrest last April, Wilkinson has been feeding local and federal investigators information about the murder-for-hire plot that targeted Latham's wife, Nancy.

On Friday, defense attorney David Aylor had his chance to cross-examine Wilkinson and he used the opportunity to punch holes in his story by pointing out inconsistencies and bringing up his lengthy rap sheet.

According to Wilkinson, he's been charged with forgery about 100 times since the 1990s. Aylor found 74 convictions since 1992. Wilkinson said he's also facing charges for a parole violation in Kentucky.

On the night of his arrest in Charleston, Wilkinson said he had just purchased $50 in heroin when the officer pulled him over. For the first time, the jury heard that Wilkinson swallowed the heroin so it wouldn't be found.

Aylor pounced on the revelation, asking why he had never shared that with anyone else before now. Wilkinson said it was because no one had asked before then. Aylor said Wilkinson seemed to have a different story for each person who interviewed him.

Wilkinson argued that he didn't always remember all the details, but on the stand he was telling the truth.

Wilkinson also revealed that he was Yenawine's second choice for the hit team. According to Wilkinson, Yenawine had picked out another man, but something happened and he had to use Wilkinson instead.

But he never intended to hurt Nancy Latham, he said.

Wilkinson told the court that he made the plea deal with prosecutors for her, adding that he was not a violent man and only agreed to get in the car with Yenawine because he was high on heroin at the time.

But then he volunteered to make a return trip to Charleston in April - alone - to finish the hit.

Wilkinson explained Friday morning that he did that because he knew Nancy Latham would be safe if he volunteered, so he and his wife made the drive. Wilkinson said he never told Yenawine that his wife was making the trek from Louisville to Charleston with him.

He also said that all of the calls between him and Yenawine while he was in Charleston were lies. According to Wilkinson, the times he said he was following Mrs. Latham or camped out at her house he was actually sitting in a motel room with his wife getting high.

After lunch, Wilkinson's cross-examination continued.

He told the court about the jailhouse phone calls between him and his mother. According to Wilkinson, he told his mother the jail was predominantly black and not a good place to be.

Wilkinson said he was hoping to get a short five-year sentence for his testimony, adding that he thought Moore would be convicted no matter what he says in testimony. The statement got a chuckle out of the court, including the three Latham women.

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