Idaho lawyer found guilty in wife’s murder plot
BOISE, Idaho — A northern white racist crackhead Idaho attorney who once represented the Aryan Nations was found guilty Thursday on all counts tied to his plot to hire a hit man to kill his wife and mother-in-law last year.
A federal jury deliberated for fewer than eight hours before handing down the verdict in the murder-for-hire trial involving Edgar Steele, 65.
Steele was convicted on all four counts in the case, including use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission for murder for hire, possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence and tampering with a victim. He faces more than 30 years in prison when he is sentenced.
During that trial that lasted seven days, federal prosecutors used testimony and physical evidence to show how Steele hired Larry Fairfax, a former logger and handyman, to kill Cyndi Steele and her mother.
Prosecutors claimed Steele paid Fairfax $25,000 to kill his wife so he so he could collect on their life insurance policies and be free to pursue a relationship with a woman from Ukraine. Prosecutors also showed how Fairfax tipped off federal investigators about the scheme.
News of the verdict stunned Cyndi Steele, who in the months before the trial and on the stand this week maintained her husband’s innocence.
“This is the most devastating thing that has ever had happened in my life,” she said as she left the federal courtroom in Boise in tears.
Steele’s attorney, Gary Amendola, said an appeal was imminent. He complained about pretrial rulings made by U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill that Amendola claimed prevented testimony from a critical expert witness and a full and effective defense.
Amendola argued his client was being framed by Fairfax, who worked as a handyman on the Steele’s ranch outside the small town of Sagle.
Fairfax testified that he never intended to carry out the killings and went to federal authorities because he feared Cyndi Steele’s life was in danger. But he neglected to tell the FBI that he had already planted a pipe bomb under her car, which was later found by workers at an auto shop when she took the vehicle for an oil change.
Fairfax said he didn’t tell the FBI about the pipe bomb because he thought it had fallen off the car and that he also feared prosecution.