A Santa Ana man agreed just days before Christmas to pay a hitman, who was really an undercover cop, $30,000 to kill his ex-wife and dispose of her body in the ocean, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.
William John Wallace’s attorney, however, said his client cannot be found guilty of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation as well as two counts of solicitation because he never paid a dime to the men brokering the deal, which was actually an undercover sting.
Wallace hired private detective Sean Hyepock in July 2013 “to dig up dirt on his ex-wife,” with whom the defendant was locked in a bitter child support and custody battle, Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller said.
Hyepock grew concerned about his client’s ire toward his ex-wife when the defendant began to speak about hiring a hitman for $9,000 from England, Geller said.
“Now it’s become pretty scary for Mr. Hyepock,” Geller said.
Hyepock contacted a Santa Ana police detective, who advised him to begin tape recording the private investigator’s conversations with his client, Geller said.
Jurors will hear 10 tape recordings taken from summer 2013 through the end of the year.
On the recordings, Wallace allegedly talks about getting a “burner” phone from a Target in south Orange County so it would cast suspicion on his ex- wife’s current husband as their marriage was also faltering, Geller said.
Orange County sheriff’s investigators took charge of the case in October and begin to set up a sting with investigator Bill Beeman posting as a hitman known as “The Captain,” Geller said.
Wallace refused to pay the Captain his fee upfront as he didn’t “trust Americans,” and in November the defendant slowed down talks because the legal battle had become so heated he was sure he would be the prime suspect in his ex- wife’s murder, Geller said.
But by Thanksgiving, Wallace met with Hyepock again and allegedly told him, “It’s time. I can’t take it anymore,” Geller said.
Wallace allegedly told Hyepock, “even if someone beat the crap out of her I would enjoy that,” and, “We can do the other thing later,” according to Geller.
Wallace felt by December that he wasn’t in danger of being the prime suspect because he said his ex-wife was “presently at war with three other people,” according to Geller.
Wallace supposedly agreed to pay $2,500 to the hitman upfront and would bring a picture of the target at a first personal meeting between the two Dec. 21, 2013, Geller said. Wallace met with Beeman in a car in a supermarket parking lot in Santa Ana that day, Geller said.
Wallace said he did not want his ex-wife killed in front of their then-4- year-old daughter, Geller said. Wallace planned to leave the country during the murder so he would have an alibi, Geller alleged.
Beeman told Wallace that it would be “really hard” to stop the plan because he was going to dump his disposable phone after the meeting, so he asked the defendant if he was sure he wanted to go through with it and Wallace gave him a “thumbs up,” Geller said.
Wallace’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client owns Dutch Gardens Supplies, “But really what he does is sell manure… and he’s a big talker.”
Hyepock “is a felon and ex-thief… and he’s a big talker too,” Barnett said.
A “key component” in the case is whether Wallace paid the hitman’s fee, Barnett said.
Wallace kept insisting on using Hyepock as a sort of “escrow agent,” meaning he would give the fee to Hyepock, who would deliver it to the hitman, Barnett said.
Wallace, however, never paid anyone a dime, Barnett said.
“So there was no deal beyond talking about it,” Barnett said.
Throughout much of the discussion with Hyepock and Beeman, “Billy is bragging and blustering” only, Barnett said.
“At the end of the testimony I’m going to ask you to follow the law and transcripts and find him not guilty,” Barnett said.
— City News Service