DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Fall was the perfect time of year for someone to shoot and kill her husband, Wendy Farley told a Milo cab driver on a recording played Thursday on the first day of the Brownville housewife’s trial at the Piscataquis County Courthouse.
Her husband, Luther “Rusty” Farley, 53, would be cutting wood, and his death could be made to look like a hunting accident,” Wendy Farley, 48, told Michael Anderson, 51. With the help of local police, Anderson recorded a Sept. 18, 2012, conversation he had on his back porch with the mother of 13, while the recording device was hidden in his work boot.
“Nothing fancy, nothing stupid, nothing traceable,” Farley said on the recording. “Once it’s done, I don’t want someone coming back at me wanting more money.”
She is charged with one count of criminal solicitation. Her trial before the jury of 11 women and two men, including one alternate, is expected to conclude Friday.
Anderson, who has graying hair and a moustache and long goatee, testified that he and Farley met at an open microphone night at a Milo restaurant where he acted as a master of ceremonies.
On the recording, Anderson and the woman laughed and joked but also discussed Farley’s access to cash and payment for the killing of her husband. She said she had $1,000 with her but could get her hands on $6,000 cash.
She also said that she had been thinking for several years about having her husband killed.
“I looked up one time on the Internet about how to hire a hit man,” she said, laughing. “There are no success stories on the Internet. You just read about the failures.”
Anderson testified that Farley was specific about what she wanted, including the weapon — a .30-.30 rifle — that should be used.
“ One shot, drop him,” she said on the recording played for jurors. “Don’t go back for a second shot. That doesn’t look like a hunting accident.”
Anderson asked Farley if her husband was abusive. She replied that he was not, but she did not want to go through a divorce and expressed concern for her five minor daughters still living at home.
“He’s out, he’s gone, I’m free,” she said. “Kids can grow up unafraid to be kids.”
Farley said that she had been preparing for her husband’s death financially by making sure that as a self-employed logger he reported his income and paid Social Security taxes so that her minor children would receive benefits after his death. She said that her husband was not suspicious of her.
“As far as he’s concerned, everything’s peachy,” she said on the recording. “He doesn’t know that I’m running around [seeing another man].”
Before the recording was played, Anderson, who wore suspenders decorated with skulls and silver skull-shaped rings on his fingers, said Farley first mentioned the idea of putting a hit on her husband in early September.
“I thought she was blowing off steam, but the second time she brought it up, I realized she was focused [on it],” he said. “A chill went through me. I knew the lady was serious, and that that man was going to die.”
Anderson said he shared his concerns with an off-duty Milo police officer on Sept. 12, 2012, and he met the next day with Brownville police, because that was the town where the Farley family lived, according to testimony Thursday. The recording device was placed in Anderson’s boot Sept. 13, 2012, but it did not activate the next day when Farley awoke Anderson to finalize plans. It did work on Sept. 18, 2012.
Anderson testified that a few hours after she left his house that day, Farley called to say her husband was going into the woods alone. She was arrested at her home a short time later.
Under cross examination, Anderson said that he did not know why Farley sought him out or thought that he would know how to find a hit man. He speculated that it might have been because he grew up in Worcester, Mass. He denied that his nickname was “Mafia Mike” but admitted that some people called him that.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Peter Rodway of Portland said that Farley never paid Anderson to find someone to kill her husband.
“Thinking about a crime is not a crime, and talking about a crime is not a crime,” he said. “She made every excuse in the book not to come up with the money,”
Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said that the recording and Anderson’s testimony proved Farley solicited her husband’s murder.
Rodway said a decision about whether his client would take the stand would be made Friday. The defense attorney said that he would call Luther Farley to testify about “the frontier surroundings” in which the couple lived.
Wendy Farley has been free on $10,000 cash bail since Nov. 9, 2012. Bail conditions allow her to have supervised contact with her minor children but no contact with her husband. The couple is separated, according to Rodway.
If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up $50,000.