The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 31, 2007

Plot to kill Childs case needs trial, judge rules

By Cass Rains Staff Writer

An Enid man accused of soliciting an undercover agent to kill the owner of a gentlemen’s club was bound over for trial Tuesday following a preliminary hearing.

Andrew D. Harshman, 26, was charged Jan. 11 with a count of first-degree solicitation for murder, which in punishable by five years to life in prison. Harshman allegedly hired a man, who was an undercover agent, to kill Rick Childs because of a custody dispute involving his ex-wife and Childs.

Special Dis-trict Judge Paul Woodward im-mediately order-ed the case bound over following closing arguments Tuesday morning.

“I found there is probable cause the crime of solicitation of murder has been committed,” Woodward said.

Enid police began investigating Harshman after being contacted by an informant who said he had been approached by Harshman to have Childs “taken out.”

The court heard testimony from Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control agent Allen Lane, who posed as a hit man and was introduced to Harshman by the Enid Police Department informant.

Lane told the court Harshman told him, “No matter what happened he wanted Childs name to be a memory.”

Lane said during the investigation he even suggested Harshman forego the murder and just take custody of his children.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Fields asked Lane if Harshman ever took any opportunity to back out of the plot.

Lane answered, “No sir, he didn’t.”

Harshman’s attorney, Stephen Cameron, asked the agent if Harshman ever told him he wanted Childs “killed” or “wanted him dead.”

Lane said Harshman never used “those exact words.”

Lane testified Harshman agreed to pay $36,000 for the murder and also offered to provide a shotgun to be used in the killings. Lane said Harshman decided on a shotgun because the metal would melt easier and be easier to dispose of.

Cameron asked Lane if there was any doubt in his mind Harshman wanted Childs killed even if he didn’t use the exact words.

“If someone offers to pay you and gives you a weapon to take someone out,” Lane said, “they don’t want you to take them out to dinner or a movie.”

Cameron asked if Harshman ever gave Lane any money or a weapon to use, and Lane said he never did.

EPD Sgt. Rick Tanner testified about what Harshman said after his arrest. After learning Lane was an undercover OBNDDC agent, Tanner said, Harshman confessed to the crime.

“He admitted he agreed to pay $36,000 to have Rick Childs killed,” Tanner said.

“I asked him why he wanted Rick Childs killed, and he said he wanted custody of his kids,” Tanner said. “I said if he (Lane) was a real hit man this would have been carried out.”

During closing arguments, Cameron argued solicitation for murder requires urging, requesting or commanding someone to commit the murder.

Cameron said his client never provided money to Lane or a weapon and ammunition.

“He never stressed that Rick Childs be killed or Mr. Lane go kill him,” Cameron told the court. “He’s guilty of being upset and saying some outlandish things.”

Cameron said Harshman only acquiesced to an idea that had been suggested to him by the informant.

Fields said Harshman provided the reason, the motive and the money to have Childs killed. He said Harshman even had been offered opportunities to withdraw from the plot.

“The fact remains, the defendant offered to pay a stranger,” Fields said.

During the hearing, Harshman mainly remained motionless but occasionally leaned toward Cameron to speak.

Harshman will appear Aug. 15 before District Judge Dennis Hladik for arraignment.

He is free on $30,000 bond.