A Sterling minister who pleaded guilty yesterday to trying to lure a parishioner into a plot to kill each other's wives wanted his wife "out of the way" so he could marry his lover, according to testimony in Prince William County court.
James Elrod Ogle, 46, also cashed checks from his wife's day-care customers to help buy a silencer for her would-be assassin, and he believed that his wife's death would be justified because it was "God's will," witnesses testified yesterday.
Yesterday, Ogle told Circuit Court Judge Frank A. Hoss Jr. that he wanted to protect his family from further grief and the publicity of a trial. Ogle entered what is known as an Alford plea to charges of attempted capital murder and solicitation of a felony. Under such a plea, which is recorded as a conviction, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to convict him.
"I do have a defense, but . . . it is not believable," Ogle softly told the court, not indicating what such a defense might be.
Ogle, who has been held without bond in the county jail since his arrest Feb. 28, is to be sentenced Sept. 3. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, plus five years for the solicitation conviction.
Ogle, a former math teacher at Herndon High School, established the Bull Run Bible Fellowship in Manassas in 1995. The church disbanded this year after the elders learned of discord in Ogle's marriage. In February, authorities said, the minister suggested to Scott Jinks, a parishioner who had gone to him for marital advice, that if Jinks would kill Judy K. Ogle he would kill Jinks's wife. Jinks went to police, who began recording the conversations between the two men.
In interviews after his arrest, Ogle told Prince William Detective Samuel Walker that he had been having an affair with a parishioner and wanted to marry her, Walker testified yesterday. But Ogle felt that he couldn't divorce his wife, Walker said.
"He and Judy had both agreed that they would not leave each other," Walker said. "The only way he could be married [again] would be if his wife were dead."
Ogle told investigators that he blamed his wife for four previous career failures over their 25 years of marriage and decided that she "wouldn't be the cause of a fifth," referring to the Bible fellowship, Walker testified.
Walker said that detectives videotaped a lengthy meeting on Feb. 26 between Ogle and Jinks at a McDonald's restaurant outside Manassas, where Ogle presented Jinks with $200 in cash so he could purchase the silencer.
"He borrowed some of the money from his son, Chris, and from his wife," Walker said. "He took some of the money from Judy's day-care checks, which he said he was going to cash for her."
On the videotape, which was presented to the court yesterday, Ogle and Jinks are seen sitting at a table with a Bible spread out between their burgers and fries, alternately discussing biblical translations and plans for Judy Ogle's murder. At one point, Ogle veered from interpreting Greek phrases in the Bible to suggesting places on the Fairfax County Parkway where he wanted his wife shot.
"If something could happen on Tuesday, that would be wonderful," Ogle said before the two men got up to leave.
Walker testified that Ogle told one of the elders of his church that the Bible supported his actions, making a reference to 1 Corinthians 10:13, in which temptation and redemption are addressed.
"He thought it was God's will that Judy be out of the way," Walker said, "and that he would not be responsible."
Three of Ogle's four children--two daughters and a son--sat in the courtroom yesterday, putting their arms around each other at times.
Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said Judy Ogle purposely did not attend the hearing, adding that he is unsure whether she will attend the sentencing. Ebert said she "was a devoted wife, and she thinks this is all quite distasteful."
CAPTION: James Elrod Ogle, a minister, entered an Alford plea to charges of attempted capital murder and solicitation of a felony. Sentencing will be Sept. 3.