SD rocker Tim Lambesis sentenced in murder-for-hire case

Lambesis given 6-year term

VISTA, Calif. - The lead singer of the Christian heavy metal band As I Lay Dying was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison for paying an undercover agent, who was posing as a hitman, to kill the singer's estranged wife.

Tim Lambesis, 33, pleaded guilty in February to a felony murder solicitation charge and had faced up to nine years behind bars.

The victim, Meggan Murphy, and her parents unsuccessfully sought to convince Judge Carlos Armour to give Lambesis the maximum term.

She told the judge that the defendant "has followers who will do anything on his behalf," and that "the question of who else Tim talked to or will talk to about killing me will forever haunt me."

Her mother, June Murphy, said there is an "underlying fear that still invades our everyday lives."

Defense attorney Thomas Warwick asked that his client be given probation, arguing that steroids Lambesis was taking at the time he solicited the murder affected his physiology and mental state.

In handing down the mid-term sentence, the judge noted the defendant's claim that his actions were the result of steroid use.

"Whether it was a result of steroids, I don't know," Armour said. "The thing is that there's a lot of men who use steroids who never engage in trying to hire someone to kill their spouses. And there's a lot of men who have engaged someone to kill their spouses who have never used steroids. So I can't say that one necessarily goes with the other.

"I think that to get to the level where you engage in this type of activity, it has to be a flaw of character, something twisted inside an individual that leads them to attempt to have somebody kill the mother of his children," the judge said.

Many in the full courtroom wore yellow hearts made of felt to support Meggan Murphy and her family.

She told the judge that the day sheriff's deputies visited her a year ago to tell her about the murder plot, Lambesis was touring with his band in Asia. Thinking that the deputies were at her home to tell her something had happened to him, she stopped to say a prayer.

"Right there in my kitchen, I prayed that Tim would not be dead," Murphy said. "How ironic it would be that he wanted me dead."

Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said Lambesis met with an undercover agent at an Oceanside bookstore in May 2013 and supplied $1,000, gate codes, photos of his wife and dates when he would have his children and wouldn't be considered a suspect in her murder.

"(He) basically told the undercover agent that his wife was making things very difficult for him and he wanted her gone," the prosecutor said at an earlier hearing.

When the undercover agent -- who went by the name "Red" -- asked Lambesis if he wanted his wife dead, the defendant replied, "Yes, that's exactly what I want," according to Grasso.

Grasso said the undercover agent told Lambesis that the "hit" would cost $20,000, and the defendant agreed.

After their meeting, Lambesis told the undercover agent, "Just to clarify, I do want her dead," the agent testified last September.

According to court testimony, Lambesis told at least two people at a Carlsbad gym that his relationship with Meggan had deteriorated and that he wanted to get rid of her.

Lambesis initially approached a personal trainer at the gym about his problem with his wife.

The defendant told the trainer that his wife was controlling visitations for their three adopted children and was spending money on attorneys for their impending divorce.

The trainer subsequently contacted law enforcement and the meeting with "Red" was arranged. Lambesis was arrested on May 7, 2013.

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