VISTA, Calif. (AP) — The frontman of the Grammy-nominated metal band As I Lay Dying will stand trial on a charge of trying to hire someone to kill his estranged wife, a judge in San Diego ruled Monday.
The decision came after a preliminary hearing for Timothy Lambesis that featured several hours of testimony by prosecution witnesses, including an undercover officer who said he posed as a hitman named "Red" and met with the singer.
San Diego County sheriff's Officer Howard Bradley testified that Lambesis met him at a book store in May in Oceanside and told him he wanted his wife "gone."
Bradley told the court he asked Lambesis directly if he wanted his wife killed, and the singer replied, "'Yes, I do.'"
Lambesis said his wife, Meggan Lambesis, had restricted his visits with their three adopted children after they were separated in September, Bradley recalled, adding he was also angry because she was going to get a chunk of his income in a divorce settlement.
Bradley said Lambesis told him at the end of their meeting, "'just to clarify, just so you know, I do want her dead.'"
The officer said the singer then gave him a manila envelope containing his wife's name, photo, security code to her condo complex, description of her vehicle and $1,000. Lambesis also wrote down three dates that would be best for carrying out the hit because he would be with his children and have an alibi, Bradley testified.
He said they agreed to set the total price at $20,000. Officers then arrested Lambesis.
Lambesis has pleaded not guilty to solicitation for murder. If convicted, he could face up to nine years in prison. San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Kearney set his arraignment for Oct. 22 at the courthouse in Vista.
Sheriff's Officer John Buckley also testified during the hearing, telling the court that he initiated the investigation after receiving a report that Lambesis had asked a personal trainer at his gym to help him get rid of his wife.
After talking to the gym acquaintance, authorities arranged for the man to set up a meeting between Lambesis and Bradley.
Defense attorney Thomas Warwick did not present any arguments during the hearing. He previously said his client had been using steroids for body building and the drugs had a devastating effect on his mind.
Lambesis has been free on $2 million bail since May and wearing a GPS monitor. The conditions will continue until he is arraigned, Kearney ruled.
The singer also has been ordered to stay home and not contact Meggan Lambesis and their three children, who were adopted from Ethiopia.
As I Lay Dying formed in San Diego in 2000 and has released six albums, including 2007's "An Ocean Between Us," which reached No. 8 on Billboard's charts. A single from the album, "Nothing Left," was nominated for a Grammy for top metal performance.
The band plays in an aggressive style that features lightning-speed metal guitar riffs. The group's philosophical lyrics have attracted a following of Christian rock fans.