Man pleads guilty in murder-for-hire plot


An Annapolis man pleaded guilty yesterday to solicitation to commit murder for his role in a botched murder-for-hire plot last September.

Prosecutor Eugene M. Whissel II said James Allen McCown, 49, of the 1600 block of Crownsville Road, was charged with solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder after seeking the services of an individual he believed to be a hit man. But the would-be assassin was a state trooper.

During a series of meetings from Sept. 10 to 16, the prosecutor said, McCown first tried to hire the trooper to beat the intended victim. At the second meeting, McCown changed his mind and asked that the target, John R. Messick of Melbourne, Fla., be killed instead.

McCown, who had worked as a mechanic with the state Department of General Services, paid the trooper $100 at the first meeting, $400 at the second meeting and agreed to pay the balance -- another $2,500 -- after the "hit."

Before the final meeting, the trooper traveled to Florida, where he met with the intended victim, staged the murder and photographed it, Whissel said. After the trooper met with McCown the third time, showing him the photo

graphs and receiving the final payment, McCown was arrested.

Whissel said McCown had arranged the murder-for-hire to help a friend who was having family problems. The friend's wife allegedly was arguing with her former spouse, the would-be victim, over the custody of their child.

As part of a plea arrangement, Whissel said he would recommend that McCown serve eight years in jail. The maximum sentence for solicitation to commit murder is life in prison, Whissel said. McCown's attorney, Stacie Wollman, could not be reached for comment.

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