DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A former Brownville woman whose trial ended with a deadlocked jury earlier this year pleaded guilty Monday to a charge in connection with her attempt to hire a hit man to kill her husband.
Wendy Farley, 48, was sentenced by Superior Court Justice William Anderson to 10 years in prison with all but 120 days suspended. Her plea agreement with Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy also requires her to serve two years of probation. She began serving her sentence immediately.
Conditions of her probation include psychological counseling and no contact with the man she tried to hire nearly two years ago to find someone to kill her husband and make it look like a hunting accident. She is not prohibited from having contact with her husband, Luther Farley.
Farley pleaded guilty to one count of criminal solicitation, a Class A crime.
She entered what is called an Alford plea. This type of plea — named for the U.S. Supreme Court case North Carolina v. Alford, decided in 1970 — is “a guilty plea that a defendant enters as part of a plea bargain, without actually admitting guilt,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary.
By pleading guilty, Farley admitted that if there were another trial, a jury could find that she tried to a hire a hit man through local cab driver Michael Anderson, 51, of Milo, also known as “Mafia Mike,” in September 2012 to kill her husband.
Anderson testified at Farley’s trial in March that he went to the police, who helped him tape a conversation with her about how she wanted the job done.
Farley did not address the court Monday. Neither her husband nor the couple’s children attended the sentencing.
Almy said at an impromptu press conference outside the courthouse after the hearing that Farley did not want his wife prosecuted for attempting to have him killed.
Wendy Farley’s attorney, Peter Rodway of Portland, said after the sentencing that the Farleys still are married but no longer live together. Rodway said that he did not know where she has been living.
Farley listed her address as Howland, according to jail personnel.
Rodway said that once Farley is released from jail, she will be able to have direct contact with her husband and see her minor children unsupervised.
In accepting the joint recommendation, Justice William Anderson said that the charge of solicitation was so rarely brought in Maine that there were no recent cases in which he could make a comparison for sentencing purposes. The judge also cited Farley’s lack of a criminal record.
“There does seem to be a question of intent as this crime unfolded,” the judge said in explaining why he accepted the sentencing recommendation. “That seemed to be an issue for the jury in the last trial, and it could be an issue in the next if she had another trial.
“She never gave Mr. [Michael] Anderson a picture of her husband or any money, even though she apparently had $1,000 with her when the recording was made,” he continued. “There seems to be a question as to whether it’s probable the crime would have been completed.”
If she had been retried and found guilty, Farley faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The 60 days she was jailed in the fall of 2012 before posting a $10,000 cash bail, will count toward the 120 days she must serve in the Piscataquis County jail, according to Rodway. The defendant’s husband of nearly 30 years testified at his wife’s trial for the defense 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, then ages 7 to 28.
Luther Farley 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.
Farley testified 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 the ICU and three days each week while he was in rehab. Luther Farley testified 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 testified in March 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 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.”
Farley did not take the stand in her own defense.
The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for more than six hours before the judge declared a mistrial.