Ken Leighton 1 p.m., Oct. 21
Fake hitman testified against California rock singer
Tim Lambesis’ attorney suggested it was all a “setup”
A fitness trainer named Brett said he knew Tim Lambesis at the gym where he worked, but just in passing. Lambesis was a client of a different trainer there, at the gym called Pure Fitness in Carlsbad, California.
The trainer was aware that Tim Lambesis was the lead singer for several rock bands, and Brett tried going to one of his concerts, once, but heavy metal is not really his kind of music.
One day Brett asked the other trainer how Lambesis doing, the rock singer hadn’t been in the gym for awhile and Brett knew he was away on tour. The other trainer replied that Lambesis “would be doing better if his wife was taken care of.” Brett then heard about a difficult divorce.
(Timothy Peter Lambesis and fiancé Meggan were both 24 years old when they married in June 2004; they separated eight years later, in 2012.)
It was April of 2013 when trainer Brett said he got a text message from Tim Lambesis. “He contacted me via text asking if he could talk with me.”
Brett described his meetings with Lambesis for a court hearing, five months later.
Tim Lambesis met with Brett in the parking lot of their gym on a Monday evening, April 22, 2013.
Lambesis asked right away if he knew why they were meeting. Brett said he jokingly replied, “I was hoping it wasn’t to kill anybody.” Brett claims Lambesis’ response was: “He told me that was funny and that was exactly why I was there.”
The rock singer explained that his relationship with his wife had deteriorated and they split up and he had a new relationship. Lambesis complained his wife wouldn’t let their kids travel on tour with him. And the successful band leader complained that since their separation, his wife was spending all their money on divorce attorneys, according to Brett.
(Within twelve months of their separation, Lambesis’ wife’s attorneys wanted $52,500 in “fees” plus $40,000 in “costs,” these amounts are listed in court documents. The wife’s divorce team is made up of four attorneys plus a paralegal, and a secretary, and a “clerical person;” their combined hourly rates add up to $1,740 per hour. Tim Lambesis’ divorce attorney listed his rate as $525 per hour.)
Lambesis told the trainer that he wanted to “get rid of her,” Brett said in court. “I told him it wasn’t anything I was interested in.”
After their meeting, the trainer said he spoke with an attorney because he feared there might actually be a killing. “I thought he was going to go through with it, with or without me.”
Brett said he arranged to meet again with Lambesis, and this time he wanted to record their conversation. Within days they did meet again, this time at a bookstore in the nearby community of Oceanside. The trainer said he suggested other solutions for Lambesis’ troubles, but the man persisted, he wanted to be completely rid of his wife. “He was not veering from killing his wife.”
Brett was aware that all three of Lambesis’ children were adopted. Brett himself was adopted, and he has two adopted kids himself. The situation touched him. Brett said that sometimes he gets hired to protect people, and that is how he sees himself. “I’m a bodyguard, not an assassin,” he told a superior court judge.
Brett said that when he believed Lambesis would not be put off from the killing, he suggested another person, somebody named Red. Lambesis then asked him, “Like the color?” And Brett replied, “Just like the color.”
This man called Red looks older but he is sturdily built; his face is weathered and rugged. When he came to court to testify, he said his real name is Howard Bradley, and he has worked with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for 33 years. Detective Bradley has pierced ears and a long reddish beard that wags when he talks.
At a preliminary hearing on September 16, the detective described a sting operation: “I was to play the role of an individual named Red.” Their suspect was told that a person named Red would be in the San Diego area on May 7 for a Hells Angel funeral, and Red was available to meet.
The detective said he phoned Tim Lambesis and told him to bring certain items to the meeting: photos and an address and a thousand dollars “as a down payment.” According to detective Bradley, the two men spoke on May 7 and they agreed to meet the same day, at the Oceanside bookstore at 2 p.m.
Red said he got there first and met Tim Lambesis as soon as he came through the doors. “He told me he wanted his wife ‘gone.’” The detective said he asked if Lambesis had a preferred method and was told, “That was up to me.”
Lambesis said he picked out three dates that were “good” for him, those were the days he was scheduled to have custody of his kids, Red told the court.
When Red named his price, twenty thousand dollars, he said Lambesis agreed to the amount “immediately.” The fake hitman said he cautioned his suspect not to withdraw the money all at once because it would be noticed, but Lambesis reassured him. “He told me he already had the money withdrawn.”
The undercover officer said he tried to get Lambesis to be specific, did he want his wife “gone” or what exactly. But Lambesis seemed to avoid the word “dead,” the detective remembered. But after Lambesis took a few steps away, going towards his car, he turned back around and made himself clear. “Just to clarify, just so you know, I do want her dead,” Tim Lambesis finally said, according to the detective’s sworn testimony.
Lambesis went to his black Jeep parked outside, and then the scruffy detective followed. Red said he received a file folder passed to him through the window, and inside were ten one-hundred-dollar bills, the name of a woman and security codes to get into her home, and a description of her vehicle.
In his cross-examination, defense attorney Thomas Warwick was able to get a different witness, Detective John Buckley, to agree this was a “set-up.” The defense attorney asserted that his client never took any steps himself to arrange any meetings or assassination; this seemed to hint at a defense based on improper solicitation by authorities.
Detective John Buckley said he reviewed recordings of meetings and phone calls, and video surveillance from the bookstore and the parking lot at the gym. But no video nor audio recordings were played during the hearing in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse on September 16, 2013.
Timothy Peter Lambesis, now 32, pleads not-guilty to one charge of solicitation of murder. The maximum possible sentence is nine years, according to prosecutor Claudia Grasso.
Lambesis was arrested immediately after he met with Red, the afternoon of May 7, 2013. Lambesis soon bailed out and is currently on “house arrest,” wearing a GPS monitor. At the end of the hearing in September, Honorable Judge Robert J. Kearney ordered the defendant to continue obedience to a previously issued “protective order.”
(Meggan Lambesis, 32, has a “stay away” order which protects herself and three children aged 10, 8, and 5. In court paperwork, the estranged wife declared: “We fear for all our lives,” and she included a request to protect two Boston terrier dogs named Billy and Annie.)
Lambesis is next due in court October 22, 2013.
More like this:
- As Lambesis awaits sentencing… — May 2, 2014
- California rocker accused of hiring hitman gets court date — June 26, 2013
- Tim Lambesis bailed out on hired-murder charge — June 3, 2013
- Tim Lambesis’ bail lowered to $2 million — May 17, 2013
- Heavy metal rocker brought into San Diego court — May 9, 2013