By Jay Tilles with reporting by Eva Knott
Tim Lambesis, singer for San Diego metal band As I Lay Dying, was sentenced today (May 16) to six years in prison in a San Diego Superior Courtroom for attempting to hire a hit man to kill his wife. Judge Carlos Armour handed down the sentencing.
Last February, Lambesis threw himself on the mercy of the court by pleading guilty to the felony charge of soliciting the murder of his wife of eight years, Meggan Lambesis.
The verdict was handed down as the singer’s ex-bandmates Nick Hipa, Phil Sgrosso and Josh Gilbert looked on. Spilling into the section typically reserved for the defense, many of Meggan’s more than three dozen supporters adorned small yellow felt hearts pinned to their shirts to make their sentiments known. With more than 80 spectators packing the gallery, defense attorney Tom Warwick told the judge that he had a lot of people who support Tim and he wanted “some kind of parity” with the seating in the room.
Mike Murphy, Meggan’s father, was the first to speak to the court. As Lambesis watched intently, Murphy explained that some people talk about being a Christian, but Meggan lives a Christian life and that his daughter has influenced other people to adopt children, too. Murphy went on to claim the family still fears assassination: “We know that prison is a great alibi for someone who wants to complete the deed.”
After meeting with Lambesis’ attorney regarding a civil suit, the singer reportedly showed no remorse. “He was only worried about the money. Tim is only sorry he got caught.” He closed by calling for the maximum sentence of nine years.
Meggan’s mother spoke next, claiming that Lambesis had been “abusive” and that he had regarded her daughter’s life “as was a mere inconvenience to this narcissistic child.”
When Meggan finally spoke, Lambesis turned in his seat to listen but didn’t look into her face. The wife and mother of three adopted children, Meggan said Lambesis’ behavior changed in the prior months. He had bullied her. He had become “dangerous.” Reading a prepared statement, she claimed her life “felt as fragile as a piece of paper that could float away at any moment.”
Meggan explained to the court that Lambesis texted her the day before his arrest asking for his children’s social security numbers: “He was tying up loose ends,” she said. She now believes he was fantasizing about killing her in advance, quoting a favorite line from the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film Total Recall where he shoots his wife and says, “Consider that a divorce.” Meggan closed by requesting the maximum sentence and a lifetime restraining order.
Prosecutor Claudia Grasso added that Meggan Lambesis was inconvenient in Tim Lambesis’ “perfect rock star world.”
In hopes of leniency, defense attorney Warwick filed 200 pages of pleadings for the sentencing. Speaking next, Warwick explained that Lambesis has forever given up any future contact with the adopted children, per Meggan’s request. Blaming the trainer at the gym who gave Lambesis the steroids, Warwick called the man a drug dealer, claiming that “Tim’s aberrant behavior” would not have occurred if it were not for the steroids. Warwick claimed Lambesis put on 40 pounds and, with the steroids combined, “morphed” into a different person.
Struggling to speak, Tim Lambesis wept before he could look at his wife. Meggan stared steadily, fearlessly into his face. He said he could not verbally apologize before because of his restraining orders. “I do feel deep remorse. I want to thank you… for your prayers… in the midst of everything that I’ve done… that you have still have the heart that you do.”
Judge Armour pointed out that other men use steroids but do not plot to kill their wives, saying that it must be a “flaw of character” and “something twisted inside a character” to move into murderous thoughts. Even more disturbing to him was that the metal frontman wanted to use his children as an alibi.
Wearing a dark blue shirt and black tie, hair in a bun and red-faced, Lambesis stared at the judge as his verdict was read: six years in prison with 48 days credit for custody already served. The judge also confirmed Meggan and children would receive 10 years’ protection.
Meanwhile, Lambesis will return to court where he faces a civil suit from Meggan, who is looking for $2 million in the suit.
Lambesis was arrested on May 7, 2013, immediately after he handed cash and photographs of his wife, along with gate codes to her home, to a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy posing as a fake hit man. Tim was in custody less than a month before bonding out on $2 million bail. He has been on house arrest for nine months, living in Carlsbad, California.
According to an anonymous post on the band’s website, As I Lay Dying is “sleeping rather than dead.” With none of the members claiming to have posted the note, the mysterious post outlines Lambesis’ future, saying, “In terms of music, Tim doesn’t want to pursue performing live music full time regardless of what length his sentence ends up being. His sentence certainly won’t be forever, but even so, touring full time doesn’t seem healthy or practical given his new outlook and goals. Creating new music is the part Tim loves most and he will always continue to release albums.”
Meanwhile, Lambesis’ former bandmates Jordan Mancino, Nick Hipa, Phil Sgrosso and Josh Gilbert announced last month they would release new music under the name Wovenwar, with vocal duties being handled by Oh, Sleeper’s Shane Blay. The band signed to Metal Blade Records with their first single “All Rise,” now available, and a self-titled debut album due for release this summer.