VISTA, Calif. (AP) — A heavy metal singer gave an envelope containing $1,000 in cash to an undercover agent and provided instructions on how to kill his estranged wife, including her photograph, address, security gate code and dates he would be with their children to give him an alibi, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The disclosure came moments after Tim Lambesis, 32, front man for the Christian-inspired group As I Lay Dying, pleaded not guilty to solicitation of murder. A judge set bail at $3 million and said if he is released, he must wear a GPS monitoring device and face strict travel restrictions.
During a May 7 meeting with the agent who went by the alias "Red," Lambesis was recorded saying he wanted his wife killed, said Claudia Grasso, a San Diego County deputy district attorney.
The undercover operation was staged after the singer told a man at his gym on April 23 and again the next day that he wanted his wife killed, complaining that she was making it difficult for him to see their children and impossible to complete their divorce, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Anthony Salerno told reporters that Lambesis did not intend to harm anybody and was apparently set up by the man at the gym.
"Law enforcement was being fed something by someone that I strongly believe was a snitch, was out to save his own skin and was trumping things up, exaggerating things," Salerno said.
The lawyer declined to address specific allegations.
Lambesis was arrested Tuesday at a store in Oceanside, north of San Diego. If convicted, he faces up to nine years in prison.
In court, Lambesis stared straight ahead from behind a glass partition in a courtroom packed with his supporters. Salerno said they included his parents, Little League coach and some band members.
The prosecutor said the singer emailed his wife while on tour in August that he didn't love her, he wanted to end the relationship, and he no longer believed in God. Meggan Lambesis later learned her husband was having an affair and had been involved with "a string of women."