POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A Winter Haven man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to hire someone to kill three witnesses against him, including a child he was accused of molesting.
Richard Palmer, 28, was sentenced this week after pleading no contest to charges as part of a deal with prosecutors. Prosecutors reduced a lewd molestation charge to attempted lewd molestation and dropped one of the two counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and one count of solicitation to commit arson, reports said.
Accordng to the Lakeland Ledger, officials said issues had developed in the lewd molestation case that prompted prosecutors to negotiate the plea agreement.
Palmer asked his cellmate at the Polk County Jail for help last year to find someone to kill a girl who had accused him of molesting her when she was 11, authorities said. He also wanted the girl's aunt and mother killed, officials said.
The cellmate notified law enforcement officers, who arranged an undercover detective to pose as the killer.
The cellmate told officers about Palmer's offer to pay $15,000 and a motor vehicle, described as a sports car, to kill the witnesses, then burn their home to destroy evidence.
Palmer's prior criminal history consists of four felony charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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