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Postmaster gets 17-and-a-half years

Former Cornelius postmaster David Willis of Stanley, N.C., was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in prison last month for plotting to kill his ex-wife, a former Oakdale post office employee, via a bizarre murder-for-hire scheme.

Robert Conrad, chief U.S. Judge for the Western District, sentenced the 57-year-old Willis to the 210-month sentence, plus two years of supervised release and $2,022.62 in restitution. A federal jury convicted Willis in April after a two-and-a-half day trial. U.S. Marshals arrested him at the Cornelius postal station in December of 2007.

According to testimony presented at the trial, Willis contacted another postal employee for assistance in murdering his wife. That employee contacted federal authorities and helped build evidence against Willis during a taped, in-person conversation, and later, in a taped phone call. On the tapes, Willis discussed hiring a hit man and using the informant as a middleman.

At one point, when asked what he would do if the informant was not able to secure the services of a hired killer, Willis said he would dress in camouflage and hide in the woods near the home of a residential customer on his ex-wife's route. The customer often left a cold beverage for the intended victim. Willis proposed switching the drink for a concoction containing a deadly amount of antifreeze. Willis said he'd heard that antifreeze tasted "as sweet as cherry juice" from watching a Court TV program.

Willis was engaged in protracted divorce litigation with his ex-wife, the intended target, and was worried about losing a share of his postal retirement, as well as a jointly-owned farm in the N.C. mountains.

Willis was convicted of one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and one count of using an interstate commerce facility (the U.S. postal station in Cornelius) to solicit murder-for-hire.

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