A veteran North Carolina sheriff encouraged another man to kill a former deputy who had an audio recording of him making “racially insensitive” comments, prosecutors said.
Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins, the county’s top lawman since 2009, was charged late Monday with two felony counts of obstruction of justice after he allegedly told an unidentified man in 2014 that he wanted former deputy Joshua Freeman dead, according to an indictment obtained by the Washington Post.
“The only way you gonna stop him is kill him,” Wilkins purportedly told the man during a recorded phone call regarding the alleged plan, which was ultimately not put into action.
In 2014, Wilkins learned that Freeman said he had a recording of the sheriff using “racially insensitive language,” which the deputy planned to release to authorities, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors claim that Wilkins’ “personal animosity” toward Freeman motivated him during an August 2014 recorded call to tell the unnamed would-be shooter to kill the deputy, clearly making his intentions known of not protecting Freeman or stopping the plot, the indictment states.
“If you need to take care of somethin’, just take care of something,” Wilkins told the man, according to the indictment.
The aspiring killer even gave Wilkins a time and location for when he planned to kill Freeman, as well as the type of firearm he intended to use. In response, Wilkins “counseled the individual how to commit murder” in a way to avoid being identified, including hiding the weapon used to kill Freeman and to simply keep quiet, the indictment continues.
“You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” Wilkins allegedly told the man before advising him to stay mum after the killing. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody nothin’, not a thing.”
If successful, Wilkins promised the man not to reveal that he had prior knowledge of the plot, which was deemed “credible,” according to the indictment.
A Granville County Sheriff’s Office deputy declined to comment when reached early Tuesday about the allegations, telling The Post that he was instructed not to discuss anything related to Wilkins.
The sheriff, who could not be reached for comment, was released on $20,000 bond and remains in office, the News & Observer reports.
“Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses to until convicted,” Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told the newspaper.
Freeman, who worked as a K-9 narcotics interdiction officer, left the Granville County Sheriff’s Office in 2014 after three years of service, according to his LinkedIn profile, which was no longer available as of Tuesday.
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