A Cody, Wyoming, woman accused of seeking out a hitman to kill her daughter’s boyfriend pleaded not guilty Monday.
Wendy Coe, 54, remains in the Park County Detention Center on a $50,000 cash or surety bond.
She gave her not-guilty plea Monday in the Park County District Court to one count of soliciting first-degree murder. The charge carries a penalty of life in prison with or without parole, and up to $10,000 in fines.
The evidentiary affidavit in Coe's case says she tried to get an undercover police agent to kill her daughter's boyfriend, whom she called controlling and a drug addict.
A Cancer Concern
Coe’s public defender for the hearing, Sam Krone, argued to get Coe out of jail on a personal recognizance bond. A personal recognizance bond allows a defendant to give her signature promising to pay the bond amount if she skips court or violates her bond terms, rather than making her put up the monetary bond amount before getting out of jail.
Krone said Coe has been having health issues and concerns about possibly cancerous masses, and has “been having a very difficult time at the detention center.” He said she could be ordered to stay on house arrest, except for medical and attorney visits.
He emphasized her 20 years in Park County, her strong ties to the community and her “more than full-time” employment at local businesses.
The public defender also said Coe has a few valid defenses in this case that could encourage her to stick around to fight it.
Park County Deputy Attorney Larry Eichele had doubts.
“We have no verification of medical issues, and the jail does have medical staff and has an obligation toward their inmates’ physical wellbeing,” said Eichele.
A “vague allegation … of some ailment” is not sufficient to get out of jail while facing a murder charge, he said.
Eichele also said Coe has warrants for her arrest elsewhere, including one in Oregon.
Park County District Court Judge Bill Simpson wanted to know more about the warrants and Coe’s criminal history.
Eichele said he didn’t have the witnesses handy, but had some data about past fraud, forgery and assault cases for Coe.
Ultimately, Simpson urged Coe to discuss her possible criminal history with her attorney, then to bring the issue of bond back before the court.
The judge kept Coe’s bond at $50,000 cash or surety, at least until the debate resurfaces in his court along with more information about Coe’s past.
Coe’s trial will happen within six months unless she waives her right to a speedy trial. Her case is ongoing.
On This Evidence
For about two weeks leading up to her Dec. 21 arrest, Coe reached out to several people, trying to get someone to kill her daughter’s boyfriend, her affidavit alleges from a confidential informant's interview with police.
A DCI special agent posing as a hitman was introduced to Coe in mid-December. He called her the morning of Dec. 20 saying he was headed to Cody and would meet with her.
He wore an audio recording device and other agents listened in, the affidavit says.
“Come into the store and we’ll walk out back,” Coe said during that phone call, according to the affidavit.
The agent asked if there was surveillance. Coe said there were cameras within the store where she worked, but not behind it.
The agent arrived and went behind the store.
“First off,” he began, “how much are you willing … like 10 grand, is that fair?” the agent asked.
Parts of the audio were muffled and unintelligible, the affidavit says. The document renders a fragmented conversation.
“That’s fair, I just don’t have it. That’s the problem, I don’t have it,” Coe allegedly replied.
The agent asked if this job was time sensitive.
“No … I just want him gone … for the way he treats my daughter,” said Coe, according to the affidavit. “Every time he gets money he gets her back on drugs and he treats her like crap. I mean like literally he’s fully in control of her.”
The boyfriend’s name is redacted from the document but his initials are given: C.N.
After a discussion about whether it would be easier to poison the boyfriend's drugs or shoot him, Coe later told the undercover agent that she couldn't come up with the money, the affidavit says.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.