SANTA ANA ( — A 33-year-old man was charged Monday with soliciting the murder of his ex-wife as they battle for custody of their 4-year-old daughter.

William John Wallace of Santa Ana was charged with one felony count of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation and two felony counts of solicitation to commit murder, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office. Prosecutors say Wallace’s motive for murder was to save money by avoiding a court trial custody battle.

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Wallace hired a private investigator to find negative information about her that he could use against her in court, where child support payments would be decided, prosecutors said. In September, Wallace allegedly told the private investigator he wanted his ex-wife, identified only as Jane Doe, killed.

“To, you know, completely keep leave out of the equation that you’re killing the mother of your child is somewhat diabolical,” prosecutor Heather Brown said.

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Prosecutors say Wallace asked the private investigator if he knew of anyone who would murder his ex-wife and dispose of her body. The private investigator reported the solicitation to police.

Wallace allegedly met with an undercover detective from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department posing as a hit man on Dec. 21. Prosecutors say Wallace offered to pay $30,000 for his ex-wife’s murder and showed the detective her photo so she could be identified.

Wallace, who was planning to leave the country for Christmas, allegedly asked that the murder be committed after Dec. 23 so he would have an alibi.

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Prosecutors plan to ask Wallace be held without bail at his arraignment, scheduled for Monday. If convicted, Wallace faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.