A shocking allegation was made Thursday as the frontman of a Grammy-nominated Christian metal band faced a judge in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Not only did the prosecutor charge San Diego-based musician Tim Lambesis with trying to arrange the murder of his estranged wife, she also claimed the man known by fans around the world for his faith recently said he no longer believes in God.
Local musician Tim Lambesis appeared tired and expressionless in the Vista courtroom Thursday.
Lambesis, in custody since his arrest Tuesday, was ordered to be held on $3 million bail after a quick arraignment in a Vista courtroom.
The frontman for the Christian metal group As I Lay Dying, entered a not guilty plea to one charge of solicitation of murder.
Lambesis, an alum of Santa Fe Christian High School, was just about to join a summer tour with the band when he was arrested in Oceanside by San Diego County sheriff's deputies.
Prosecutors claim Lambesis approached someone from his gym on April 23 and allegedly asked if the person knew anyone who could kill his wife. The metal rocker was motivated because he felt it would be better for the children to have a healthy relationship with one parent prosecutors allege.
Then on May 7, he met with an undercover agent named “Red.”
Lambesis allegedly told the agent that he wanted his wife "gone" and to "never see her again" prosecutors said. Watch video
When asked if he wanted her dead, the defendant replied, “Yes, that is exactly what I want,” Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said in court.
Prosecutors claim Lambesis provided the undercover agent with an envelope containing $1,000 cash for expenses, his wife’s address and gate codes, pictures of her and specific dates when he would have the children and thus, an alibi.
“He has provided the means, the money, the pictures, the address, the gate codes, the times,” Grasso said.
His estranged wife, Meggan Lambesis, lives in Del Mar with the couple's three children ages 4, 8 and 10. She had filed for divorce in September to end the couple's 8-year marriage according to court documents.
Grasso said Meggan Lambesis is in seclusion and terrified there may be other hits still outstanding.
In the divorce records obtained by the Associated Press, Meggan Lambesis claims the rocker had become "obsessed with bodybuilding" and was distracted with the children, even falling asleep once while watching them.
She also claimed he has spent thousands of dollars on tattoos.
In an email sent in August, Lambesis told his wife he had been having an affair and no longer loved her the prosecutor said in court.
“He also told her he no longer believes in God,” Grasso said.
The divorce and custody issues are still pending.
Members of the band, family members, friends and a number of supporters filled the gallery in court. Among them were Lambesis' high school basketball coach and religion teacher his defense attorney said.
In arguing for reasonable bail, high-profile criminal attorney Anthony Salerno told the judge Lambesis has no criminal history whatsoever.
“Even assuming the allegations are true, the dangers are very particular to one person and not to the community at large,” Salerno added requesting a bail of $250,000.
Judge Martin Staven ordered GPS monitoring for the defendant and that he stay away from his wife and children.
The musician must surrender his passport and remain in San Diego County except for meetings with his legal team in Los Angeles.
If convicted, Lambesis faces a maximum sentence of 9 years behind bars.
Fans around the world discussed the arrest on social media displaying shock and sadness. The band reached out to their fans, releasing an official statement Wednesday night:
"As we post this, the legal process is taking its course and we have no more information than you do. There are many unanswered questions."