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Rocker Tim Lambesis pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire case

HomicideCrime, Law and JusticeJustice System

VISTA -- At a court arraignment attended by his friends and fans, heavy metal singer Tim Lambesis pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of soliciting the murder of his estranged wife.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Martin Staven set bail at $3 million. Once he is released from jail, Lambesis must wear a GPS monitor and stay away from his wife and their three children.

Lambesis, 32, lead singer for the Christian-themed band As I Lay Dying, is charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill his estranged wife, who filed for divorce in September.

In divorce papers, she alleged that he has become emotionally distant, is preoccupied with bodybuilding and touring, and spends money irresponsibly, including on numerous tattoos. The couple has been married eight years and adopted three children from Ethiopia.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Claudia Grasso said Lambesis several months ago sent his wife an email telling her that he no longer loved her or believed in God. His wife also learned that he had had several extra-marital affairs, she said.

Grasso said Lambesis gave the deputy posing as a hitman $1,000 and the address of his wife's home and the computer code to the front door. The tip about his desire to hire a hitman came after Lambesis allegedly told someone at his gymnasium that he wanted his wife killed.

Lambesis was arrested in Oceanside on Tuesday after allegedly seeking to hire an undercover sheriff's deputy to kill his wife. The meeting was arranged after deputies received a tip that Lambesis was trying to arrange the murder of his wife.

At the arraignment in Superior Court in Vista, a readiness hearing was set for June 10 and preliminary hearing for July 10. Lambesis was represented by defense attorney Anthony Salerno of Los Angeles.

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