"You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on," a North Carolina sheriff allegedly said in coaching someone about how to get away with killing a former deputy. "The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody, not a thing." Brindell Wilkins, Granville County's sheriff, was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, the News & Observer reports. No killing took place. But court filings say Wilkins wanted the former deputy dead because he had an audio recording of the sheriff using "racially insensitive language" that Wilkins thought he'd release. "Take care of it," the sheriff said in the 2014 conversation with an unnamed person, according to court records.
The prosecutor said she sought obstruction of justice charges because they would be easier to win than conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder counts; the filing says Wilkins knew of a specific threat to the former deputy but did nothing about it, per WRAL. The person coached by Wilkins showed the sheriff the gun he was going to use, the indictment says; Wilkins did not take the weapon from him. The sheriff assured him he would not tip off any murder investigation about the killer, prosecutors say. The ex-deputy has given the recording to the FBI, which has been investigating Wilkins for months. Wilkins, who has been sheriff since 2009 and was reelected last year, was released on bond Monday. He can remain sheriff during the prosecution, officials said. (Read more sheriff stories.)