Two men sentenced in plot to kill woman

February 13, 2001|By MARLO BARNHART

Two men sentenced in plot to kill woman

Jealousy over a failed relationship that led to a murder-for-hire conspiracy took a Hagerstown man to court Tuesday for hiring another man to kill his ex-girlfriend last year.

Donald Lee Edwards Sr., the former boyfriend, and Arthur Eugene Diehl Sr. both entered Alford pleas before Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright, acknowledging there was evidence to prove the conspiracy to commit murder charge.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges the state has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction, but does not admit guilt.

Diehl, 46, who has been in jail since Sept. 15, 1999, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and given credit for time served. The balance of the sentence was suspended.


Placing him on five years unsupervised probation, Wright told Diehl he can return to Florida as he wishes.

Edwards, free on bond since Dec. 6, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence was suspended. He was placed on five years probation.

Wright ordered that Edwards, 43, have no contact with Mary Castle except where it involves their child.

"The jealousy is no longer an issue," Edwards said in court Tuesday. "I apologize to the court and to the victim."

Castle sat on one side of the courtroom during the proceeding. According to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steve Kessell, she was never aware of the plot nor was she considered to be in actual danger.

The plot was thwarted by Edwards' new girlfriend, who is now his wife, who wore a wire so Washington County Sheriff's deputies could tape their conversation.

Sandra Wood, who is also Diehl's niece, tipped deputies to the plot. She told deputies that Edwards had paid Diehl $3,000 since April 2000 to kill Castle, according to court records.

Wood had the conversation with Edwards as they sat in her vehicle at the Sharrett I-70 Auto Mall where Edwards worked as an auto mechanic, according to court records.

During the conversation, Edwards told Wood he had given Diehl $600 in April to kill Castle and that Diehl had wanted more money for expenses, according to court records.

Edwards told Wood they had called off the hit and he wasn't sure if he would get the money back, according to court records.

"In January, Woods married Edwards," Kessell said, explaining to Wright while the prosecution took the pleas.

Kessell pointed out that the issue of marital privilege could have made the case difficult to try.

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