North Carolina Sheriff Accused Of Plotting Deputy's Murder To Stop Tape Of Him Using 'Racially Insensitive' Remarks From Getting Out
Despite the claims in a lawsuit, Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on just two counts of felony obstruction of justice.
A North Carolina sheriff is facing felony obstruction of justice charges for his alleged attempts to have his deputy killed.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said on Monday that Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted on two counts of felony obstruction of justice because of his conversation during a 2014 recording where he and another man are heard discussing how to kill Joshua Freeman, a deputy in the sheriff's office.
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In the court filing, prosecutors say Wilkins can be heard on tape complaining about Freeman because the deputy threatened to release a recording of Wilkins making racially-insensitive comments.
According to The News & Observer, Wilkins is on tape telling the other man to “take care of it” and “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him.”
Wilkins then proceeds to tell the man how to get away with killing Freeman.
“You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” Wilkins told the man, according to court records seen by The News & Observer. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody, not a thing.”
Despite these blatant statements, Wilkins was only charged for what happened next on the tape.
After Wilkins explained how to get away with killing Freeman, the other man spoke in detail about specific times and places where he could kill the deputy. The district attorney, who is not related to Freeman, said Wilkins was charged for not notifying his deputy that a man was planning to kill him.
Wilkins was allowed to leave jail after paying a $20,000 bond, and because his position is elected by the town, he cannot be removed without a court order.
Despite being five years old, the case only came to light in November when Granville County District Attorney Mike Waters told Lorrin about both recordings. Lorrin was asked to take over the case because of Water's conflicts.
Waters also gave the recording to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which began looking into Wilkins and the Granville County Sheriff’s Office drug interdiction unit. The FBI helped them with the probe, but failed to listen to the recording of Wilkins until last year.
The State Bureau of Investigation is still investigating, but the district attorney said they've already discovered problems in how the unit handled money and funding.
“Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been. Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team,” District Attorney Freeman said Tuesday in an interview with The News & Observer.
Granville County officials have largely backed Wilkins, claiming there is little they can do to remove him from an elected position. There is a state statute that would allow the town to remove Wilkins through the courts, but Granville County Attorney Jim Wrenn said he wanted to hear the tape first.
Wilkins' first court date is scheduled for October 9.