Man pleads not guilty to plotting to have his estranged wife murdered
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A former Charleston-based bank executive involved in a highly-publicized divorce has pleaded not guilty after being indicted on federal charges he conspired to have his estranged wife murdered.
Christopher Austin Latham, 50, a former regional executive with Bank of America, pleaded not guilty during a federal court hearing to the charges on Wednesday afternoon.
According to federal court documents, Latham conspired with 37-year-old Wendy Annette Moore, 39-year-old Aaron Russell Wilkinson, 36-year-old Rachel Palmer, and the now-deceased Samuel Arthur Yenawine to murder his estranged wife, Nancy Latham.
Federal investigators say Latham conspired with his girlfriend, Moore, to contact Yenawine, her ex-husband, in Louisville, Kentucky, and plot to murder Nancy Latham just days before their divorce proceedings were set to take place in early April.
Feds say Yenawine recruited his girlfriend, Palmer, and a man he served prison time with, Wilkinson, to help with the plot.
Latham was arrested by ATF agents Tuesday night while he was vacationing at Lake Jocassee in the Upstate. He was booked into the Charleston County Detention Center just after 1:15 a.m. Wednesday.
All suspects are charged with: conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire; use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Moore is also charged with solicitation of murder for hire and Wilkinson is charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Court documents state the conspiracy was hatched in March, but unraveled on Apr. 5 when Wilkinson and his wife were stopped by police. Officers found a .32-caliber revolver and a box of ammo inside the car.
When questioned, police said Wilkinson confessed to being part of an elaborate plot to murder Nancy Latham and make it look like an armed robbery, court documents state.
Moore, Yenawine, and Palmer were later taken into custody as well and Nancy Latham filed a restraining order and civil suit against her husband.
Yenawine was held in the Georgetown County Detention Center until he committed suicide by hanging in late June. Moore and Wilkinson are being held in the Charleston County jail and Palmer is being held out of state.
Matt Yelverton, an attorney for Nancy Latham, told Reporter Harve Jacobs his client was relieved to hear of her estranged husband's arrest. At the same time, Yelverton said it was tough for the children to see their father in jail shackles.
Latham will appear in court for a bond hearing on Monday. Until then, he also remains behind bars at the Charleston County Detention Center.
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