BOISE - "This phone call is protected under husband-wife privilege, even if they're recording it, they can't use it for any purpose."
Edgar Steele said that to his wife, Cyndi, in a June phone call played for jurors today in his murder-for-hire case in U.S. District Court in Boise. The call led to a victim tampering charge against him.
Only a portion of the call had been released before today. The entire phone call was played for the 13 women and 1 man hearing the case. Two of the women are alternates.
In the call, Cyndi Steele says she has a "small doubt" because of an earlier incident.
"You have not been yourself, and you told me to get out of your life and get out of the way," she said. Steele said he was in the hospital on drugs.
"You've got to know me better than this," he said.
"Sweetie, I love you. I love you; you've got to believe me," he continued. "If I were to get rid of you, I would just walk away from you. I would never hurt you. Twenty-five years we spent together, you should know that by now."
Fairfax testified earlier today that Steele rejected his suggestion of divorce
because he said his wife wanted too much when she petitioned for divorce in 2000. Prosecutors submitted that divorce petition as evidence; in it, Cyndi Steele asks for $1,400 a month in child support as well as alimony payments to cover counseling.
In the June phone call, Steele acknowledges he feared she may be seeing another man.
"The last few months you seemed distant, and you sure haven't been around, and I've missed you terribly, and I did wonder if you had someone else,"he said.
Cyndi Steele tells her husband that she "told you I was giving you six months. That was the idea, that I needed you to heal before we had any talks."
She testified today that she was not seeking a divorce.
Steele told his wife the recording she was to listen to would be "a very high-class production. I expect this to be very convincing, and it's total fucking bulls**t.
"This is going to be Mission Impossible-level convincing," he continued. He said the recording likely would be collection of recordings combined into one incriminating phone call. (Defense lawyers wanted two people to testify regarding flaws they found in the recordings, but Judge Lynn Winmill declined
; neither expert had supported their findings. One of the experts said he wouldn’t describe the glitches as “suspicious,” because a variety of factors could have caused them.)
Cyndi Steele asks if it's possible that local FBI agents are "oblivious" to the plot.
"Yes, it's likely. In fact, it's absolutely likely," Edgar Steele said. "Most of the FBI agents are good people doing a good job. They're being used. They wouldn't know the difference if they were handed this kind of tape."
He reminds his wife, "If I go to prison, it will only be because of what you tell them tomorrow."