A grand jury has indicted the sitting Granville County, North Carolina, sheriff on two felony obstruction of justice charges, alleging the lawman ignored and encouraged a plot to kill one of his deputies, according to court documents.
Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, but the court appearance was postponed.
A court order filed Tuesday said Wilkins’ attorney began a months-long capital murder trial in northeast North Carolina this week. The state Bureau of Investigation also is looking into allegations regarding drug investigations conducted by Wilkins’ office, which will also take months, the order said.
Wilkins was indicted September 16 on two felony obstruction of justice charges. Wilkins not only knew of the threat to kill the now-former deputy, Joshua Freeman, but coached a would-be assailant on how to get away with the crime, the indictment alleges.
It is not clear when Wilkins’ arraignment will be rescheduled, but it won’t be placed on any calendars until Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman notifies the court, the order said.
Lorrin Freeman took over the case after it was determined that prosecutor Michael Waters, whose jurisdiction includes Granville County, had a conflict.
Board grants sheriff’s request for pay
For now, Wilkins will continue getting paid after the county Board of Commissioners voted to maintain his salary and benefits pending a review of the investigation and charges. The board’s seven members unanimously approved the move following a closed session Monday night, according to the board’s minutes.
“There is no clear legal authority dictating the outcome” of Wilkins’ request that he continue receiving pay and benefits during his suspension, county attorney Jim Wrenn said in a statement.
Sheriff is an independent, elected post, and commissioners have no authority over the sheriff’s office, Wrenn has previously said.
“Depriving an elected official of his or her pay based on charges which have not been adjudicated and to which the elected official has not had an opportunity to respond is not a decision to be taken lightly,” Wrenn wrote this week, reiterating that the decision may be revisited later.
Wilkins is presently suspended, with Chief Deputy Sherwood Boyd filling his post until the case has concluded, the county has said.
“The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman, who defendant was told had expressed an intention to publicly disclose to authorities a purported audio recording of the defendant using racially offensive language,” says the indictment, which followed a 10-month investigation.
’Take care of it’
According to the indictment, Wilkins had a “personal animosity” toward Joshua Freeman because he thought the deputy was going to disclose to authorities a recording of Wilkins using “racially offensive language.”
After learning of the recording, the indictment says, Wilkins in August 2014 told a would-be assailant, who is not named, to “take care of it.”
The indictment quotes the sheriff as saying, “If you need to take care of something, just take care of something,” and “The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.”
Wilkins also offered instruction on how to get away with the killing, saying, “You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” the indictment alleges.
“The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody nothing – not a thing,” the indictment quotes Wilkins as saying.
Wilkins also discussed the time and location “of where the murder might successfully occur,” according to the indictment, and at one point in the interactions, the sheriff was shown the firearm that would be used in the crime.
CNN’s Theresa Waldrop and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.