NC Sheriff Accused of Helping Plan the Murder of Deputy
|thenorthstar||Sep 20, 2019|
A North Carolina sheriff faces charges of felony obstruction of justice after he allegedly attempted to plot the murder of a deputy who planned to release a recording of him that included his use of racist language.
Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins reportedly tried to get an unidentified individual to kill his deputy Joshua Freeman when he learned that Freeman was going to release a recording of him using “racially offensive language,” according to court records. The alleged recording that Freeman had of Wilkins has not been released, Buzzfeed News reported.
Wilkins told the individual over the phone in August 2014, “The only way you gonna stop [Freeman] is kill him.”
“The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman, who defendant was told had expressed an intention to publicly disclose to authorities a purported audio recording of the defendant using racially offensive language,” the indictment said.
The indictment against Wilkins revealed that the sheriff provided an unidentified man with instruction on how to murder his deputy “in a manner as to avoid identification.” Wilkins discussed the ideal time and location for the killing, and he gave the man advice on how to shoot Freeman and avoid getting caught.
“You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” he reportedly said. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody nothin’, not a thing.” The indictment claimed that at one point during the interactions with the man, the sheriff was shown the weapon that would be used to kill Freeman.
The murder plot never came to fruition. Wilkins was ultimately charged for failing to arrest the would-be killer and for failing to make sure that Freeman was not harmed, the indictment said. He was indicted on September 16 by a grand jury on two counts of felony obstruction of justice.
Wilkins was reelected sheriff in 2018, when he ran unopposed. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is working on the case, said that Wilkins can continue to serve as sheriff “if he chooses to until convicted.”
In a news conference, county attorney James Wrenn said that a North Carolina statute allows a county attorney or district attorney to prosecute the removal of a sheriff in some cases, but said he has not heard the alleged recording and that his investigation had just started.
“Currently the only information I have about this matter is the same information that is available to the public,” he said.
“I am mindful of the need to preserve the public confidence and the integrity of the office of the sheriff,” Wrenn continued, “but I am also mindful that there’s an ongoing criminal investigation into these charges.”
Lorrin Freeman took the case over from District Attorney Michael Waters after it was determined that Waters had a conflict. Waters had written Freeman on November 14, 2018 asking for her help in assessing the recording Joshua Freeman had given him while he was in private practice, CNN reported.
Almost two weeks later, Lorrin Freeman wrote to the State Bureau of Investigation noting that she had reviewed the recording, which “contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.” The district attorney asked the bureau for help in investigating the situation.
Waters told The News & Observer that he is frustrated that it took five years for Wilkins to be charged. “It has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more efficient,” he said. The district attorney, whose jurisdiction includes Granville and four other counties, was in private practice when he first learned of the case in 2014.
Wilkins was finally charged nearly a year after Waters reached out to Lorrin Freeman for help. Waters may be called as a witness in the case and has promised assistance from his prosecutor’s office, according to The News & Observer.
Wilkins was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond and remains in office, The News & Observer reported. Court documents said that a judge ordered Wilkins to give up his passport. He is scheduled to appear in court on October 9.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.