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Hit Man Wants to Write Book With a Would-be Victim

September 22, 1993

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Bill Bateman, a hit man with a conscience, wants to collaborate on a book with the man he was hired to kill.

Bateman got a lenient five-year sentence Monday based on his refusal to carry out the killing of J.R. Suggs and for identifying his co-conspirator - Suggs’ estranged wife, JoAnn. He’s already spent seven months in jail awaiting trial and expects to be out of prison before long.

When Bateman showed up at Suggs’ townhouse last Dec. 3, intending to kill him on Mrs. Suggs’ orders, they struck up a conversation instead.

They tossed back a few beers, smoked some cigarettes and chatted. Then, they decided to ride around and smoke and talk some more. They burned a tank of gas. Then another tank of gas.

Eventually, they talked things through and agreed to part company with Suggs hidden in the trunk of the car parked at his workplace.

That wasn’t good enough for Mrs. Suggs. Under her watchful eye, Bateman fired a spray of bullets into the trunk. He testified at his trial that he shot toward the very edge of the trunk and didn’t intend to hit Suggs.

Suggs was wounded in the hip and the hand. He was treated at a hospital and released.

He testified Monday in Superior Court on Bateman’s behalf, telling jurors he liked the guy. ″We might not be best friends, but I have forgiven him. ... Hey, this is something nobody can believe,″ Suggs said.

″We spent a lot of time together. It’s a bizarre thing, but we developed a bar-talk relationship in that time. We talked about everything.″

The charges against Bateman included assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, conspiracy, armed robbery and first-degree kidnapping.

Both men testified against Mrs. Suggs in July. She was convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

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