Arundel man charged in murder-for-hire plot to kill his estranged wife

$500 allegedly offered to undercover detective

January 12, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A 40-year-old Anne Arundel County man was arrested and charged yesterday with trying to have his estranged wife killed, county police said.

Police say that instead of hiring a hit man, Leroy Michael Clark offered an undercover county detective $500 to kill his 42-year-old wife.

Clark was arrested by homicide detectives outside his mobile home in the Chesapeake Mobile Court in Hanover just after midnight yesterday. He was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.

Police say they got a tip Jan. 1 that Clark was looking for someone to kill his wife, Mary Clark. The two were engaged in a bitter, yearlong legal dispute over the terms of their divorce and the custody of their two children.

On Tuesday night, an undercover detective met with Clark in the parking lot of Arundel Mills mall to discuss the murder plot, police said. Police said that's when Clark agreed on the $500 price for his wife's killing. According to police, Clark didn't specify how or exactly when he wanted his wife killed.

Clark, who according to court records pleaded guilty last year to a sex offense involving a prostitute, was being held without bail last night at the county detention center in Annapolis. A bail review hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

David Ruben, the lawyer representing Mary Clark in the divorce and child custody proceedings, said he had no comment on the alleged murder plot against his client. He said she was told by police not to discuss the case.

The Clarks separated in February, after Mary Clark obtained a court order requiring her husband to stay away from her and moved out of their Hanover home, according to court documents. She alleged her husband, who is more than 6 feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds, had thrown her off their couch and had tried to throw her out of their home. Initially, she moved next door with their 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter but later moved to a mobile home in Elkridge, according to court records.

Leroy Clark, who according to court records has been disabled with multiple sclerosis since 1996, filed for divorce in March, alleging his wife had an affair -- an allegation she denied in court documents.

In April, Leroy Clark called county police alleging that his wife had dragged their son from a car. County detectives found no evidence of abuse, according to police reports. Mary Clark told police she and her husband were going through a "heated divorce" and that her husband had lodged the complaint only to get custody of their children.

In her appeal to maintain full custody, Mary Clark noted a decline in the children's emotional stability after her husband was released from jail in November 2000. According to court records, Clark was arrested and charged in April 2000 with a first-degree sex offense in Baltimore. He pleaded guilty to the sexual assault and served eight months in Baltimore City jail, with the rest of his 15-year sentence suspended, court records show.

The couple was scheduled to appear in Circuit Court in Annapolis in March to discuss custody, visitation, and child support.

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