A North Carolina sheriff allegedly encouraged another man to kill a former deputy when he reportedly caught the lawman on tape making “racially offensive” comments.
Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was recorded in a phone call telling an unnamed man about a plan to kill former deputy Joshua Freeman, according to a felony indictment The Washington Post obtained Monday night.
“The only way you gonna stop him is kill him,” Wilkins allegedly said on the call.
Freeman was employed at the sheriff’s office between 2011 and 2014 as a K-9 narcotics interdiction officer, The Post reported.
Although the plan regarding the ex-deputy was not put into action, Wilkins was charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice allegedly for failing to arrest the accused hit man or report the threat on Freeman’s life.
Wilkins is also accused of giving the man advice about how to get away with the killing, and his office is being investigated for its “accounting practices and controlled substance interdiction efforts,” prosecuting Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told local news outlets.
Wilkins has been the sheriff in Granville County since 2009, and he’s still serving as sheriff, Freeman told the News & Observer.
“Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses to until convicted,” Freeman said.
Of the August 2014 phone call, prosecutors said, Wilkins “personal animosity” led him to go along with the plan to kill the deputy when Wilkins found out that same year that Freeman planned to publicly reveal the recording in question and turn it over to authorities in Raleigh.
Raleigh is about 40 miles south of Granville County.
In the call, the unnamed man detailed a time and location when he planned to kill Freeman and described the firearm he planned to use, The Post reported.
According to the indictment, Wilkins “counseled the individual how to commit the murder in a manner as to avoid identification” and he told the man:
“If you need to take care of somethin’, just take care of something.”
The sheriff is accused of advising the gunman not to let police find the murder weapon, The Post reported.
“You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” Wilkins allegedly said.
He also allegedly told the gunman, “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody nothin’, not a thing.”
Wilkins told the man he wouldn’t tell if the hit man carried through with the plan, according to the indictment, which described the threat as “credible.”
The indictment follows a 10-month FBI investigation with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, according to a statement The Post obtained from Lorrin Freeman.
The Wake County prosecutor took over the investigation in 2018 after Granville County District Attorney Mike Waters disclosed he may also be a witness in the case, because he represented Joshua Freeman in his private practice in 2014, The Post reported.
Waters gave the FBI the recording detailing the planned killing in August 2014, followed up with the State Bureau in January 2017 and again gave the recording to a different agent in October 2018 when it appeared nothing was happening, The Post reported.
He also wrote to Lorrin Freeman, asking her to take over, and she agreed, The Post reported.
“I have reviewed this recording,” she told SBI agents. “It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County Sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.”
Wilkins was released on a $20,000 bond, and his first court date is set for Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m. in Granville County, CBS 17 reported.