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By Jon Wiederhorn
Having interviewed the guy several times, I could never have imagined that As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis could be up on charges for allegedly hiring someone to kill his estranged wife, Meggan. Yet the evidence against Lambesis seems pretty damning, which is why the singer is being held on $3 million bail at a detention center in Vista, California.
But remember, Lambesis is innocent until proven guilty, and his attorney insists proving the singer guilt is going to present a great challenge for the prosecution because his client likely was set up.
Lambesis was arrested on May 7 at 2 p.m. in front of a Barnes & Noble in Oceanside, California, and he was charged with trying to hire an undercover agent to assassinate Meggan. On May 9, Lambesis pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Allegedly, Lambesis wanted to hire someone to kill his estranged wife because she would not let his see his children and was making an agreed-upon divorce "impossible."
At his arraignment on Thursday, Lambesis was ordered to wear a GPS monitor and turn in his passport to reduce the chance that he will flee. Also, a judge warned him that if he makes bail, he must stay away from his family. If convicted, Lambesis faces up to nine years in state prison.
His attorney, Anthony Salerno, says Lambesis originally faced the possibility of a life sentence. Initially, prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge Martin Stavan to set Lambesis’s bail at $20 million, because they insisted the singer still remains "substantially motivated to kill his wife."
Salerno told Artisan News that he was able to convince the district attorney that based on the evidence presented, there was no way Lambesis could be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, and he was able to have the singer’s bail reduced from the proposed $20 million to $3 million.
"I believe very strongly that there is absolutely no way that he could be even charged with conspiracy, much less convicted of it. [So] one of the first things I did was to reach out directly to the [district attorney] that was assigned to the case and had some conversations with her. And she, in fact, did decide for Tim not to be charged with conspiracy, which was a big victory, 'cause that took a potential life sentence off the table before he was even charged. That's something that jumped out at me right away--that I needed to do that early intervention--so we did that."
Further, Salerno is suspicious of the circumstances of the arrest and believes Lambesis may have been set up. “Law enforcement was fed something by someone who effectively orchestrated the whole thing," he said, according to MTV News. "[Tim] did not intend to harm anybody. If I had to hang a tag on it, I'd call it a scumbag snitch setup."
Salerno pointed to Meggan’s family as possibly being part of that setup. "Tim's wife's brother, I understand, is a San Diego Sheriff's deputy," he said. "I think I would be remiss if I didn't fully explore that, 'cause that is a litte bit…it's at the bare minimum very coincidental, and it may be more than that."
In court, Deputy District Attorney Clausio Grasso laid out the case against Lambesis. "On April 23 of 2013, the defendant met with an individual from his gym and asked him if he knew of someone that could kill his wife,” Grasso said. "The previous day, that same individual from the gym ran into another gym individual that happened to make a remark of, 'Oh, the defendant is doing well on tour, but he would be better if his wife was killed.' So, this individual thought that was strange--they agreed to have another meeting, and this meeting took place on April 24. There, the defendant reiterated and asked this gym individual if he knew of someone that could kill his wife. He said that it was better for the children to have one healthy relationship with one parent than two unhealthy ones, and he wanted her gone."
Then Grasso described the details about what went down right before the singer was arrested: "On May 7, the defendant agreed to meet with 'Red,' who was an undercover agent posing as a hitman,” Grasso said. 'The defendant told Red that he wanted his wife gone and to never see her again. When asked if he wanted her dead, the defendant replied, and on recording, 'Yes, that is exactly what I want.' The defendant told Red that he wanted his wife killed when the children were with him so he would have an alibi. The defendant then handed the undercover agent an envelope with $1,000 cash for expenses, pictures of Mrs. Lambesis, her address and gate codes--how to get into her home, to her complex, and specific dates when this could be done, which were the same dates that he was due to have the children."
In a statement to their fans, As I Lay Dying wrote, "As we post this, the legal process is taking its course and we have no more information than you do. There are many unanswered questions, and the situation will become clearer in the coming days and weeks. We'll keep you informed as best we can. Our thoughts right now are with Tim, his family, and with everyone else affected by this terrible situation--and with our fans, whom we love and draw strength from. Thank you for understanding, and as always, for your support of As I Lay Dying."