A former Aurora doctor was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to murder her former husband in a Lawrence County courtroom on April 10.
Esther Wadley, 40, was convicted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder following a three-day jury trial held Dec. 12, 13 and 14, 2008. Wadley was accused of trying to hire someone to kill her ex-husband, Joshua Millager.
The 15-year prison sentence is to run consecutively to two 24-month sentences Wadley had received in federal court in March for distribution of a controlled substance outside the scope of professional practice and obstruction of a criminal investigation of a healthcare offense.
"I was very pleased with the sentence handed down by Judge (Gerald) McBeth," said Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Robert E. George. "Judge McBeth noted when sentencing the defendant that as a doctor her professional oath required her to do not harm to another."
During the sentencing hearing, George argues for the maximum sentence, noting that Wadley had spoken to another person about killing her husband before she was arrested following the first attempt to kill Millager.
"This additional action showed the defendant's determination to do harm to her ex-husband," said George. "As long as the defendant is in the community, Mr. Millager would be in fear of an impending action."
Millager testified at the sentencing hearing and told Judge McBeth that in 2007 he heard two loud pops while driving to his home in Barry County. Millager said he thought he had a flat tire, but when he got home, he found two bullet holes in the cab of his pickup just above his head.
Millager and Wadley had been married for eight years before their divorce in 1994. Following the divorce, Millager was granted sole custody of the couple's daughter.
During the December 2008 trial, Paul Bell, a former patient of Wadley's, testified that Wadley arranged to meet him at the a cafe in Aurora on Oct 11, 2007, where Wadley asked Bell if he could find someone to kill Millager. According to Bell's testimony, Wadley talked with him about her plot to kill Millager for four hours. She told Bell she wanted Wadley killed while she had custody of her daughter for the weekend so she would have an alibi.
Wadley gave Bell two $100 bills to pay Bell to travel to Tennessee to talk to a friend about Millager's murder. Instead of making the trip, Bell contacted the FBI who then contacted the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The Patrol then had Bell call Wadley to she if she was still interested in proceeding with the murder-for-hire plot. Wadley indicated she was and during another meeting with Bell and a Highway Patrol officer posing as the hitman, Wadley told him she wanted Millager killed.
"The recorded statements were the key to the conviction," said George. "We had a series of calls to the defendant. She was coy and never mentioned the murder on the tapes.
"She was extremely suspicious of being set up; however, her desire to kill her ex-husband overrode her women's instinct," said George. "She went to the meeting (with Bell and the officer) and met the alleged hit man."