AS I LAY DYING frontman Tim Lambesis was given a six-year prison sentence without probation for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. The singer's ex-bandmates Nick Hipa, Phil Sgrosso and Josh Gilbert were present in the San Diego Superior courtroom earlier today (Friday, May 16) when Judge Carlos Armour handed down the sentencing.
The 33-year-old musician, who received 48 days credit for custody already served, pleaded guilty in February to hiring a hit man to kill his estranged wife, Meggan. The singer's attorney offered no stipulated plea deal, which means the judge had the freedom to apply whatever sentence he determines appropriate, with a maximum of 9 years in state prison plus 4 years parole after release.
The judge confirmed at today's sentencing that Meggan and the couple's three adopted children from Ethiopia would receive 10 years' protection.
According to Radio.com, the family of the victim, Meggan, spoke to the court at today's sentencing, as did Meggan herself. Meggan's father, Mike Murphy, who was the first to address he court, claimed that the family still fears Meggan's assassination, stating, "We know that prison is a great alibi for someone who wants to complete the deed." Murphy added, "He was only worried about the money. Tim is only sorry he got caught.
Meggan's mother also spoke at the hearing, calling Lambesis an abusive husband who regarded Meggan as "a mere inconvenience to this narcissistic child." For her part, Meggan — who is now known as Meggan Murphy — told the judge: "My name used to be Meggan Lambesis. Up until two years ago, my life was entirely devoted to that man. She added that Tim had become "dangerous" and that she "felt as fragile as a piece of paper that could float away at any moment." She also explained that the day before Tim's arrest, the musician texted her asking for their three adopted children's social security numbers in a display of "tying up loose ends."
Meggan — who reportedly received an e-mail from her husband several months before she filed for divorce telling her that he no longer loved her or believed in God — even referenced the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Total Recall", where Arnold's character shoots his wife and says, "Consider that a divorce." She went on to describe how she learned that her husband told her in an e-mail that he wanted a divorce. But it never crossed her mind that he would try to hire a hit man to kill her. "I had no idea who I was living with," she said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. She added: "The question of who else Tim talked to or will talk to will forever haunt me," noting that she had seen "horrible comments" online from Lambesis' fans about her and her family. She said because of Lambesis' notoriety, he has followers who would do anything for him. "I am plagued by vulnerability," she said.
When it was Tim's turn to speak, the vocalist openly wept and struggled to get the words out. "I do feel deep remorse," he said. "I want to thank you. For her prayers, which proves you still have the heart that you do." Lambesis also claimed that he wasn't able to verbally apologize to Meggan in the past due to restraining orders.
Meggan filed a civil lawsuit against Tim back in August, seeking over $2 million. She has reportedly asked for $1 million for emotional distress and $25,000 in medical expenses to date. This is in addition to $75,000 she's seeking for future medical expenses and $1 million in punitive damages. The suit is also seeking attorney's fees. That case is still pending.
Lambesis told AltPress.com about Meggan's lawsuit: "Considering the cost of the attorneys, my debt to my parents for the bail bond… When I learned about the civil suit, I kind of laughed. 'I don't even have $20,000. You're suing me for $2 million?'"
Meggan, who filed for divorce in September 2012, a month after the couple separated, claimed in court documents, "[Tim] continued to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and bought a new residence in his parents' name before he was arrested in May 2013 for allegedly hiring a hit man to have me killed." She also stated that she and the couple's children all "fear for all our lives."
Prosecutors alleged Lambesis had twice told a man at a gym that he wanted his wife killed, then met with an undercover detective known as "Red", and gave the agent an envelope containing $1,000 in cash, photographs of his wife, and the security gate code to her house. He also allegedly told the agent the dates he would be with the couple's three adopted children, in order to give himself an alibi.
Investigators say the undercover cop operation was staged after Lambesis told a man at his gym at Pure Fitness back on April 23, 2013 that he wanted his wife killed. Lambesis was allegedly complaining that she was making life difficult for him, that it was hard for him to see his children and that it was impossible for them to complete their divorce.
"[Lambesis said that] he wasn't allowed to visit his kids, he wasn't allowed to see his kids, he wasn't allowed to take his kids out of the state to go on tour with him, and that angered him," the undercover officer testified. "And the fact that his wife was gonna get a large portion — up to 60 percent — of his income [as part of a divorce settlement]."
The singer at one time has said he considered himself to be a Christian and acknowledged that he found inspiration for lyrical content from biblical texts.
Lambesis' attorney said the "gym culture" led to "changes in [the singer's] physiological and mental status," with Tim's bodybuilding obsession causing him to go from 170 to 220 pounds after first taking supplements, then steroids. "[He] was not the same person. He was irritable and lost God."
Lambesis, who has not seen his kids since right before AS I LAY DYING's spring 2013 Asian tour, told told AltPress.com: "The prison sentence I'm facing is one thing. But the real lifelong sentence is that I may never get to see my kids again. Or if I do get to see them, the relationship is so damaged where I'm not even sure it's best for them, for me to try to pry my way into their lives."