SAN DIEGO - Timothy Lambesis, the lead singer of Grammy-nominated metal band As I Lay Dying, pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to hire someone to kill his estranged wife.
Lambesis, 32, remains free on $2 million bond until he is sentenced May 2 on a felony count of solicitation of murder in Vista Superior Court, north of San Diego.
CBS affiliate KROQ reports that Lambesis was supported in court by family. His attorney offered no stipulated plea deal, which means the judge can sentence the defendant to a maximum of nine years in state prison plus four years parole after his release.
Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said family members of victim Meggan Lambesis were "obviously relieved" by the plea, according to KROQ.
Lambesis was recorded telling an undercover agent that he wanted his wife killed, according to prosecutors. The investigation began last April after Lambesis allegedly told a personal trainer at his gym that he wanted to get rid of his wife.
The undercover agent, San Diego County Sheriff's Officer Howard Bradley, testified last year that Lambesis met him at an Oceanside bookstore in May and said he wanted his wife "gone."
Bradley said he asked Lambesis directly if he wanted his wife killed, and the singer replied, "Yes, I do."
Lambesis said his wife had restricted his visits with their three adopted children after they separated in September 2012, Bradley testified at a preliminary hearing. The singer also told the agent that he was angry that Meggan Lambesis would get a large share of his income in a divorce settlement.
Bradley said Lambesis told him at the end of their meeting, "Just to clarify, just so you know, I do want her dead."
As I Lay Dying formed in San Diego in 2000 and has released six albums, including 2007's "An Ocean Between Us," which reached No. 8 on Billboard's charts. A single from the album, "Nothing Left," was nominated for a Grammy for top metal performance.
The band plays in an aggressive style that features lightning-speed metal guitar riffs. The group's philosophical lyrics have attracted a following of Christian rock fans.