Wendell Brian Mansel
A Maryland man who attempted to hire someone to murder his wife was sentenced Sept. 27 to six years of active incarceration.
Wendell Brian Mansel, of Annapolis, was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder, with all but two years suspended; five years with all but one year suspended for attempt to commit capital murder; and the mandatory three-year minimum for the use of a firearm in a felony. In addition, he will serve 10 years probation upon his release.
Judge Thomas Horne noted that Mansel's family requested leniency, and also acknowledged that, as noted by the defense, there were other factors into play.
“There certainly is a mental health aspect to this case,” Horne said.
Mansel approached Rod Griffith of Leesburg in 2012 in an attempt to find a contract killer to murder his wife, Karen. According to Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman, Griffith tried to talk Mansel out of the plan, encouraging him to just divorce his wife.
“Mr. Mansel insisted, 'no, I'll lose too much. She'll take everything,'” Plowman said at sentencing.
Griffith contacted the Leesburg Police Department, who placed an undercover officer to act as the hit man. Additionally, they coordinated with Anne Arundel police to ensure Mansel's wife's safety. Mansel and the undercover cops coordinated over the course of several weeks.
On Aug. 3, 2012, Mansel arrived in Leesburg with a gun and valuables as payment for the murder. He was subsequently arrested. His girlfriend, Cynthia Lisa Mills, also of Annapolis, was later arrested for helping orchestrate the murder plot. She entered an Alford plea – maintaining her innocence, yet submitting a guilty plea – and is currently serving an 18-month sentence in Anne Arundel County.
Plowman urged Horne to impose the higher end of the three- to 18-year sentence.
“I don't believe the guidelines are reflective of the gravity of the case and the consequences of this had it been successful,” Plowman said.
Not only did Mansel not seem truly repentant, Plowman said, but he did not exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as the defense asserted.
“No where in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is violence one of the symptoms,” Plowman said.
Mansel served overseas with the military in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008; additionally, one of his sons committed suicide 12 years ago. The defense postulated that both of these traumas contributed to his mental instability.
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun also argued that not only did Mansel suffer from mental health, he has had exemplary behavior in jail, taking multiple Christianity courses and assisting younger inmates in receiving their GED.
Plowman shot back, saying that as Mansel took a course entitled “A Christian Way of Marriage,” he was simultaneously communicating romantically with Mills. Plowman also noted that rather than take responsibility, he attempted to finger-point that both women led him, an assertion Plowman refutes.
“At every level, he's involved in the specific details of how this plan is to be executed,” Plowman said.
When Mansel spoke to the court, he apologized and spoke of his hopes for the future.
“I hope to renew my relationship with Karen,” Mansel read from a pre-written speech.