An Annapolis man pleaded guilty yesterday to solicitation to commit murder in Circuit Court for his role in a plot to kill his wife's ex-husband in Florida.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutor Eugene M. Whissel II will recommend that Nicholas Emilio Toro, 38, of the 1100 block of Primrose Court, receives no more than four years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28.
Toro and James Allen McCown, 39, of the 1600 block of Crownsville Road, were accused of hiring an undercover state trooper to kill Johnny Richard Messick of Melbourne, Fla. McCown pleaded guilty on June 16 to the same charge and will be sentenced Aug. 3.
According to a statement of facts read by Mr. Whissel, McCown first met the trooper on Sept. 11 in a park on Arundel on the Bay Road in Annapolis to arrange the slaying. McCown gave the trooper $100 as a partial down payment to travel to Melbourne, Fla., beat Mr. Messick until he was paralyzed and cut his tongue out.
McCown gave the undercover trooper photographs of Mr. Messick and written directions. McCown also told the trooper that his friend "Nick" was in on the scheme.
The next day, the trooper met with both McCown and Toro in the parking lot of St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Annapolis. McCown and Toro told the trooper that they now wanted Mr. Messick killed rather than injured. They also gave the trooper $400 and promised to give him $2,500 when the job was done.
Soon after the meeting, the trooper left for Florida, where he met with Mr. Messick, who told the trooper that he was involved in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife, now married to Toro. He also said he had received death threats.
The trooper "photographed the victim in such a way that it appeared the victim had been murdered," Mr. Whissel said. The trooper also took Mr. Messick's Social Security card.
When he returned to Maryland, the trooper met with McCown and Toro on Sept. 16 on the St. Martin's parking lot. He showed them the pictures and the Social Security card, which Toro confirmed was Mr. Messick's. Toro and McCown were arrested after they handed the trooper $2,500.
Toro's lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill, said his client should receive a lighter sentence because McCown was the principal player in the scheme, and Toro merely went along with it. It was McCown who contacted the trooper, who had the first meeting with him and who handed the money over to him, Mr. O'Neill said.