As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he paid an undercover agent $1,000 to kill his estranged wife, The Associated Press reports. The heavy metal singer, 32, was arraigned in North San Diego County Superior Court on a charge of solicitation of murder. A judge set his bail at $3 million and said Lambesis must wear a GPS monitoring device and face travel restrictions if he's released.
The vocalist was arrested Tuesday in a bookstore near San Diego after he was recorded telling an undercover agent known as "Red" that he wanted his wife, Meggan Lambesis, dead. Tim Lambesis gave Red an envelope full of cash and provided instructions on how to kill his wife, including her address, security gate code, photographs and dates he would be with their three adopted children as an alibi.
The authorities staged the operation after Lambesis told a man at his gym last month that he wanted his wife killed because she was making it difficult for him to see their children or complete their divorce. Lambesis' lawyer, Anthony Salerno, told reporters the whole case was a setup.
"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," said Salerno, who insisted Lambesis never intended to harm anyone.
The couple separated last September after the singer e-mailed his wife while on tour and told her he didn't love her anymore, a prosecutor said. Meggan Lambesis later learned that her husband was having an affair and had been involved with other women.
Meggan Lambesis said in a divorce filing that her husband fell asleep while he was supposed to be caring for their children near a pool, and that he was spending countless hours at the gym and thousands of dollars on tattoos. She also said he toured six months out the year and had made two last-minute trips to Florida in a month to see a girlfriend.
Salerno said he expected Lambesis to make bail, which includes conditions prohibiting him from contacting his wife or children. The singer would also not be allowed to leave San Diego except to visit his lawyer in L.A., which calls into question a planned 30-city tour As I Lay Dying has booked with Killswitch Engage that was supposed to start May 30th in Oklahoma City.
The other members of the band haven't commented beyond a statement they posted online Wednesday, saying that their "thoughts right now are with Tim, his family and everyone else affected by this terrible situation."