Two e-mail messages turned over by prosecutors this week suggest that the family of Jeffrey Locker, the Woodmere motivational speaker found bound and stabbed to death in his car in East Harlem in July, may have known that he was on a mission to get himself killed.
In a July 5 text recovered from Locker's phone, his son Matthew discussed making a video for Locker's 13-year-old daughter Allison, his youngest child: "Remember you wont b there 2 give her away or any of that. its an important milestone for a woman getting married to also have her father so u could also add in hers that u will b there in spirit giving her away."
Kenneth Minor, 36, is charged with murdering Locker, 52, on July 19. He claims that Locker paid him to help in a suicide that would look like a robbery because Locker was deeply in debt and wanted his family to be able to collect on life insurance.
Prosecutors previously have acknowledged that Locker faced rising debt, had increased his insurance and had discussed funeral arrangements.
In a second e-mail disclosed this week to Minor's lawyers, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Locker's home computer had a message that appeared to have been sent to his wife, Lois, on March 27 about how he had structured his estate to resist creditors.
"I want you to promise that to the best of your ability, you will let them hang out to dry when I am gone on any account that is only in my name," he wrote. "There will be no money in the estate for them to come after and they can threaten you all they want. If there isn't money in the estate they can huff and puff all they want, the lawyers say they have no grounds to do anything to you."
Locker's family could not be reached to comment.
Prosecutors, who declined to comment on the e-mails, said they were turning them over "in the interest of fairness" but were not admitting that they were exculpatory. Daniel Gotlin, Minor's lawyer, said they provided further corroboration of his client's claim that Locker was on a suicide mission.
"It seems obvious the e-mails mean Mr. Locker's family knew he was going to do what he did," Gotlin said. "They knew he was going to commit suicide and his wife may have known he was going to do it in a way that would let her collect insurance policies."
Prosecutors also revealed that they have located a new witness in the case who has said that Locker, in conversations between July 7 and July 16, paid him to "obtain a gun and to shoot and kill Jeffrey Locker."
Under state law, the crime of "assisted suicide" is at most manslaughter. In a ruling this week, however, State Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman said "assisted suicide" refers to passive help, not actually committing the killing, and let the murder charge stand.