Judge declares mistrial after jury deadlocks over Brownville woman accused of hiring hit man to kill husband

Wendy Farley, 48, of Brownville and her attorney Peter Rodway of Portland wait Thursday for her trial to begin at the Piscataquis County Courthouse in Dover-Foxcroft. She is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband in September 2012.
Judy Harrison
Wendy Farley, 48, of Brownville and her attorney Peter Rodway of Portland wait Thursday for her trial to begin at the Piscataquis County Courthouse in Dover-Foxcroft. She is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband in September 2012.
Posted March 21, 2014, at 2:54 p.m.
Last modified March 21, 2014, at 11:22 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Superior Court justice declared a mistrial about 9:30 p.m. Friday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked in the case of a Brownville woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband in September 2012.

The jury of 10 women and two men men deliberated for more than six hours before telling the judge they could not reach a verdict.

The trial of Wendy Farley, 48, began Thursday at the Piscataquis County Courthouse. Jurors deliberated for about 3½ hours on Friday before telling the Superior Court Justice William Anderson that they were deadlocked.

Anderson instructed the jury to try again. Jurors took a 30-minute dinner break about 7 p.m. and about 50 minutes later asked for a recording to be replayed in which Farley is heard discussing details of the hit on her husband and a possible price.

Farley was charged with one count of criminal solicitation, a Class A crime. She was accused of trying to a hire a hit man, through Michael Anderson, 51, of Milo, in September 2012 to kill her husband.

District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said after learning the jury might be deadlocked that he would retry the case if the jury were unable to reach a verdict.

Defense attorney Peter Rodway said that his client was disappointed the jury did not reach a verdict.

“She wanted this to be over today, but looks forward to her next day in court.

Almy said in his closing argument that Farley trusted Anderson to find someone to murder her husband and make it look like an accident during hunting season. She did not know that Anderson, the owner of a Milo cab company, had gone to police and secretly recorded their conversation.

“She’s pretty shrewd,” Almy told jurors. “That’s what the evidence shows. She’s not dumb. She’s thought about this. It’s been years coming.”

Rodway said that Farley was not guilty because she never really intended to have her husband killed. Although Farley had $1,000 in cash in her purse, she never gave it to Anderson. The Portland lawyer said that in the recording, Farley sounds “almost flirtatious, giggly.”

“This was a game, and where does it get her?” Rodway said. “No hit man was decided upon. No price decided. This was a game used by her to get out of the toil and drudgery that was her life.”

He also suggested that Anderson induced her to hire a hit man rather than the other way around.

Farley’s trial began Thursday. The prosecution rested Friday after calling one witness. The defense rested after calling two witnesses, including Luther “Rusty” Farley, 53, of Brownville. Wendy Farley did not take the stand.

The defendant’s husband of nearly 30 years testified that he reacted with “shock, surprise and disbelief” when his wife was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to kill him. He described her as a good wife and the mother of the couple’s 13 children, now ages 7 to 28.

Luther Farley did not look at his wife during his hour-long testimony. She appeared to be staring at him from her seat at the defense table.

He said the couple tried to live a self-sustaining lifestyle. They grew their own food, kept chickens, pigs, and cows for beef and milk. Farley said that his wife cared for the children and home-schooled them. He said that she took care of the chores inside the home, and he did much of the work outside.

“It was a simpler way for us to live and a way to economize,” he said of their lifestyle.

Farley said that their eldest child, Caleb Farley, 28, suffered a traumatic brain injury on Jan. 20, 2012, when he crashed his truck on Interstate 95. Farley said their son was in intensive care at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for three weeks and in the hospital’s rehabilitation center until March of that year.

Wendy Farley was at EMMC almost constantly when their son was in ICU and three days each week while he was in rehab. Luther Farley said that in the summer of 2012, his wife seemed to change. She began chewing on her hair and sleeping during the day.

“I thought things were good,” he said when asked to assess his marriage.

Anderson, 51, testified Thursday that Wendy Farley approached him about finding someone to kill her husband. With the help of local police, Anderson recorded a Sept. 18, 2012, conversation he had on his back porch with her while the recording device was hidden in his work boot.

The 39-minute recording was played Thursday for the jury. Almy and Rodway played snippets of the conversation in their closings.

“Nothing fancy, nothing stupid, nothing traceable,” Farley said on the recording. “Once it’s done, I don’t want someone coming back at me wanting more money.”

Anderson testified that Farley was specific about what she wanted, including the weapon — a .30-.30 rifle — that should be used.

One shot, drop him,” she said on the recording played for jurors. “Don’t go back for a second shot. That doesn’t look like a hunting accident.”

Taylor Renner, 18, of Dover-Foxcroft testified Friday for the defense. She said that in September 2012 she was having trouble with her then-boyfriend when she lived in Milo. Renner said that she called Anderson’s cab company and during the conversation Anderson offered to “get rid of” him for her.

Renner said that Anderson was known around Milo as “Mafia Mike” and had a reputation for being the kind of guy people might go to if they were seeking out a hit man.

Farley has been free on $10,000 cash bail since Nov. 9, 2012. Anderson ordered Friday night that bail continue. Bail conditions allow her to have supervised contact with her minor children but no contact with her husband. The couple is separated, according to Rodway.

If retried and convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up $50,000.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business