VISTA, Calif. (CBSLA.com/AP) — The lead singer of a Grammy-nominated Christian metal band pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to hire someone to kill his estranged wife.
Timothy Lambesis, 32, remains free on $2 million bond until he is sentenced May 2 on one count of solicitation of murder in Vista Superior Court, north of San Diego. He could get nine years in prison.
Lambesis, of the band As I Lay Dying, was recorded telling an undercover agent that he wanted his wife killed, according to prosecutors. The investigation began last April after Lambesis allegedly told a personal trainer at his gym that he wanted to get rid of his wife.
The undercover agent, San Diego County Sheriff’s Officer Howard Bradley, testified last year that Lambesis met him at an Oceanside bookstore in May and said he wanted his wife “gone.”
According to prosecutors, the singer reportedly provided the agent with an envelope containing a $1,000 down payment, his wife’s Del Mar address and gate codes and pictures of her. He asked that the murder be done on dates when he would have custody of his children so he’d have an alibi.
Bradley said 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 separated in September 2012, Bradley testified at a preliminary hearing. The singer also told the agent that he was angry that she would get a large share 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 singer’s lawyer blames Lambesis’ use of steroids for his actions. Lambesis is a fitness enthusiast with a YouTube channel dedicated to the subject.
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.
(TM and ©Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)