Tumwater murder-for-hire suspect held on $800,000 bail

Staff writerJune 12, 2013 

Brian Cox

Brian Cox’s divorce proceedings with his wife of roughly 4½ years were bitter and acrimonious, according to Thurston County court filings that include mutual restraining orders requiring the pair stay away from one another.

But one of Cox’s co-workers, his brother and even his estranged wife all stated Wednesday that they are shocked by allegations that he solicited a co-worker Tuesday to have her murdered for $10,000.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy on Wednesday ordered Cox held in the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of a count of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. His bail was set at $800,000.

Tumwater police arrested Cox during a traffic stop Tuesday in west Olympia after he was allegedly secretly recorded offering a co-worker at the state Department of Financial Institutions $10,000 to have her killed. The co-worker stated to police that he came forward in May after Cox’s initial inquiry because “he didn’t want it on his conscience if something happened” to Cox’s wife, court papers state.

During a conversation at DFI, the co-worker wore a body wire that Cox failed to find, despite “frisking” him, according to court papers. Cox offered the co-worker considerably less than the $125,000 the co-worker claimed Cox initially said he would pay for his wife’s death.

Cox told the co-worker he had to reduce the amount he could offer because the $250,000 life insurance policy he had taken out on his wife was no longer valid, court papers state.

“I still want the (expletive) dead and it’s still worth ten grand to me because I’m going to be paying more than that in attorney’s fees and to her,” Cox said during the recorded conversation according to court papers. “I’m going to be paying another twenty grand in fees so, dude, we’re talking about murder here man.”

The co-worker told Cox he knew someone in Special Forces who could kill his wife, according to court papers.

Cox denied the accusations against him when he was confronted by police after his arrest. His court-appointed attorney, Deborah Murphy, who is not related to the judge, said in court Wednesday that Cox looks forward to clearing his name.

Cox’s brother, Kerry Cox, said in a phone interview from Utah that his brother is being set up and that it must be someone else’s voice on the conversation detailed in court papers.

“He’ll be totally exonerated,” Kerry Cox said. “… He’s just not that type of person.”

Tumwater police have characterized the divorce proceedings between Brian Cox and his wife as “contentious.” Divorce paperwork was initially filed in January, and property at issue between the pair included Cox’s 1959 Cessna airplane, a gun collection, a home in Boise, Idaho, five motorcycles and a timeshare. The disputes over property extended to seemingly trivial items such as a mattress in the couple’s Tumwater home.

Divorce paperwork also detailed accusations in early June by Cox’s wife that he had refused to pay even half of the $1,350 a month in support he had been ordered by the court to provide to her and her two daughters. In response, Cox filed his own declaration detailing what he claimed were “outlandish” accusations by his wife — claims that he had committed fraud, that he had plans “to commit a mass murder, that I plan on committing a terrorist attack by flying my plane into a building, and that I am a meth dealer.”

Cox alleged in one declaration that his wife had the FBI investigate her claims that he would fly his plane into a building. He alleged in the declaration that “she is mentally imbalanced.”

In court papers, Cox’s co-worker at DFI repeated a similar allegation to police — that Cox had said he planned to fly his plane into the DFI building. The co-worker also said he was surprised by Cox’s initial solicitation to have his wife killed.

The co-worker said in court papers that the initial conversation with Cox occurred May 14 in a DFI elevator when Cox said, “Guess what? I have a $250,000 life insurance policy on my wife, and I’m willing to give you half if you make her disappear,” court papers state. The co-worker then told his boss, who forwarded the information to law enforcement.

Cox’s wife said through her attorney that she was shocked by her husband’s arrest. But during their divorce proceedings, she filed a sworn declaration in one court filing stating that he had told her she “ ‘won’t get anything’ out of him and that I will ‘pay’ for defying him.”

Cox’s wife’s attorney, Marcella Hughes, read a statement outside court Wednesday. “At this time Ms. Cox has been through shock, disbelief, and continues to wonder why Brian would do this, although she knows she will likely never have an answer or understand. She is emotionally and financially devastated. She has to continue to remain vigilant and to protect herself due to Brian’s actions.”

Judge Murphy ordered Wednesday that if Cox makes bail, he has to relinquish his passport and stay away from the witness, his wife and DFI’s Tumwater office. Cox’s attorney has said that Cox has kept his employment and would like to go back to work if he makes bail.

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