Broadcast preacher on trial in murder-for-hire scheme
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) _ To hear prosecutors tell it, the Rev. George Crossley hated George ``Butch″ Waldo so much that he wanted a hit man to kill the husband of his former lover.
But whether Crossley actually looked for a killer or whether he was egged on by a friend is at the crux of his murder-for-hire trial involving sex, ministers and videotape.
Crossley’s alleged offer to a federal agent posing as a hit man was captured on videotape and audio tape, portions of which were played for jurors as the trial began Tuesday.
``I want him to start feeling the heat a little because it’s been the other way around,″ Crossley said on one of the tapes.
Lawyers for Crossley, a 56-year-old ordained minister who was the host of a show called ``Central Florida Live,″ said he was entrapped by authorities and his friend, William Klinger.
``Bill Klinger thought of the inducement of killing George Waldo,″ defense attorney Anthony Suarez said. ``It was not George Crossley who encouraged, asked to murder another person.″
Crossley is charged with soliciting to commit murder and soliciting to commit arson. He faces eight to 14 years in prison if convicted.
He was arrested July 3, 1996, allegedly for hiring the undercover agent to kill Waldo, 54. He had had an affair with Waldo’s wife, Madeline.
After Waldo found out about the affair, he became obsessed with bringing Crossley down, prosecutors and defense attorneys say. The Waldos have since divorced.
Waldo, who also is an ordained minister, began a campaign to end Crossley’s career as a Christian broadcaster. Waldo contacted managers at the radio and television stations where Crossley worked and called advertisers, asking them to boycott one of the radio stations.
The boiling point came in May when Waldo called Crossley’s wife, prosecutor Michele Mahaffey said. After that, she said, Crossley began discussing with Klinger ways to kill Waldo.
When Crossley started talking about murder in late June or early July 1996, Klinger turned to Seminole County authorities.
``He was out of control,″ Klinger testified. ``I’ve never seen him out of control.″
The sheriff’s department and an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attached a microphone to Klinger in early July, Klinger said. He met Crossley at the Sanford-Orlando Airport where the minister discussed hiring a hit man to kill Waldo.
``Would he do the guy in the house?″ Crossley asked on the audio tape played in court. ``If he does it, he needs to do it in such a way that nobody finds him.″
Klinger arranged for a meeting with the purported hit man, ATF Special Agent Steve Martin, later that night.