Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted earlier this week on felony charges for allegedly aiding in a plot to kill a former deputy who held evidence of him using “racially insensitive language,” the News & Observer reports.
Wilkins, who has served as sheriff of the small, North Carolina area since 2009, was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice after authorities came into possession of an August 2014 audio recording in which he threatens the life of former deputy sheriff Joshua Freeman.
The investigation that led to Wilkins’ indictment was opened by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman after receiving a letter about the recording from Granville County District Attorney Mike Waters.
Waters formerly represented Joshua Freeman while in private practice. He came into possession of the tape where Joshua Freeman’s life was threatened back in 2014, and initially turned the audio over to the FBI, according to a statement obtained by The Washington Post. In January of 2017, Waters turned another copy of the recording over to the State Bureau of Investigations. When action on the recorded threat seemed to be stalled, Waters reached out to a separate agent at the SBI and the Wake County DA in October 2018. That’s when DA Freeman agreed to act.
What she heard on the tape was Wilkins telling an unidentified person to “take care of it,” followed by instructions on how to get away with killing Freeman. “You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” he said, based on court records. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody, not a thing.”
According to reports, the “well-known” person on the other end of the recording had disclosed a plot to kill former deputy sheriff Freeman. Instead of Wilkins reporting the threat or warning Joshua Freeman of it, Wilkins chose instead to aid in the plot by telling the man how to commit the crime and get away with it.
“Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,” DA Freeman (no relation to former deputy Joshua Freeman) said Tuesday.
During the course of the SBI investigation into the Wilkins recording, the agency also discovered additional information regarding questionable operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team which Wilkins oversaw and Freeman was a member of.
Wilkins, who was released on $20,000 bond, is still serving as sheriff.
According to Freeman, “He can continue to serve if he chooses to until convicted.”