Prosecutors: NC sheriff suggested murder of deputy who taped him making racist remarks

Prosecutors said Monday that a North Carolina sheriff attempted to persuade another man to kill a former deputy who possessed a recording of the sheriff making “racially offensive” remarks, The Raleigh News & Observer reported Monday.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins, who was first elected in 2009 and most recently reelected in 2018, allegedly told his co-conspirator “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him” in a 2014 phone call in reference to former deputy Joshua Freeman.

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Wake County district attorney Lorrin Freeman has charged Wilkins with two counts of felony obstruction of justice for offering advice on how to get away with the killing, which was never carried out, and for not arresting or reporting the threat.

Wilkins was released on a $20,000 bond and continues to serve as sheriff.

“Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses to until convicted,” the district attorney told the News & Observer.

The indictment claims Wilkins learned of the recording by the deputy in 2014, believing he planned to make it public.

In the phone call, the unnamed man allegedly told Wilkins when he planned to kill the deputy and described the gun he planned to use. In response, Wilkins allegedly advised the man how to get away with the killing, telling him to be sure to dispose of the weapon afterwards.

Wilkins also allegedly advised the man that "the only way we find out these murder things is people talk … you can’t tell nobody nothing, not a thing."

Wake County prosecutors took over the 10-month investigation in 2018 after Granville County district attorney Mike Waters disclosed that he represented Joshua Freeman in private practice in 2014, the same year he handed over the recording to the FBI.

Wilkins “failed to make reasonable and professional efforts to help prevent harm to victim Joshua Freeman, including failing to immediately warn Joshua Freeman of the credible threat ... or failing to effectuate an arrest of this individual,” the indictment says.

The Hill has reached out to the Granville County Sheriff’s Office for comment.