VISTA, Calif. — The lead singer of the Christian heavy metal band As I Lay Dying pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony murder solicitation charge for paying an undercover agent to kill his estranged wife.
Tim Lambesis, 33, faces a sentence ranging from probation to nine years in prison when he returns to the Vista Courthouse on May 2.
Lambesis remains out of custody on a $3 million bail and has been ordered to stay away from his wife and children, to surrender his passport and remain in San Diego County on GPS monitoring.
Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said Lambesis met with the undercover agent at an Oceanside bookstore last May and supplied $1,000, gate codes, photos of his wife and dates when he would have his children and wouldn’t be considered a suspect in her murder.
“(He) basically told the undercover agent that his wife was making things very difficult for him and he wanted her gone,” the prosecutor said outside court.
When the undercover agent — who went by the name “Red” — asked Lambesis if he wanted his wife dead, the defendant replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what I want,” according to Grasso.
Grasso said the undercover agent told Lambesis that the “hit” would cost $20,000, and the defendant agreed.
After their meeting, Lambesis told the undercover agent, “Just to clarify, I do want her dead,” the undercover agent testified last September.
According to court testimony, Lambesis told at least two people at a Carlsbad gym that his relationship with his wife, Meggan, had deteriorated and that he wanted to get rid of her.
Lambesis initially approached a personal trainer at the gym about his problem with his wife.
The defendant told the trainer that his wife was controlling visitations for their three adopted children and was spending money on attorneys for their impending divorce.
The trainer subsequently contacted law enforcement and the meeting with “Red” was arranged. Lambesis was arrested May 7.
His wife and children went into hiding last year after she learned of the plot to have her killed.
Defense attorney Thomas Warwick said earlier that Lambesis had gotten into bodybuilding and eating healthy, and at some point began taking steroids, which affected his thought process.