A Walker man charged in the alleged murder-for-hire of Baton Rouge automobile dealer Hamid Ghassemi's ex-wife in 2015 is asking to be tried separately from his three co-defendants.
Daniel Humberto Richter, 35, said Tyler Ashpaugh, 23, and Skyler Williams, 19, both of Denham Springs, have made statements to law enforcement implicating Richter and Ghassemi in the crime.
The statements are inconsistent, Richter's attorney, Jeff Heggelund, alleges in the motion to sever Richter's case.
The son of jailed Baton Rouge automobile dealer Hamid Ghassemi, who is charged with three ot…
The 66-year-old Ghassemi, Richter, Ashpaugh and Williams are charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Taherah Ghassemi, 54. Each man is being held without bail. They have pleaded not guilty.
Authorities have said Ghassemi paid $10,000 to have his former wife killed. Her body was found with a gunshot to the head May 16, 2015, in a shallow grave in rural St. Helena Parish.
Hamid Ghassemi owned Import One and Import One Elite on Airline Highway at the time. Richter once worked at one of the car dealerships, authorities have said.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday his office has not decided whether it will object to a severance of Richter's case.
A Baton Rouge automobile dealer accused in the alleged murder-for-hire of his ex-wife was br…
"We are currently reviewing the matter," he said.
Richter has not made any statements to law enforcement, according to his motion to sever, but Ashpaugh and Williams have made at least two statements.
Ashpaugh told detectives he went with Richter and Williams to Taherah Ghassemi's home on North Laurel Creek and kidnapped her, authorities have said. She was put in the trunk of her late-model Jaguar sedan and driven to a heavily wooded area near Pine Grove where she was buried. The burned car was discovered in Baton Rouge on a field-lined stretch of Chalma Avenue.
The statements given by Ashpaugh and Williams are incriminating against Richter and implicate both Richter and Ghassemi, the motion states. Richter, the document adds, would have to defend himself against not only the state's allegations but also those of Ashpaugh and Williams.
Richter "believes that, despite admonitions from the trial judge, a jury will attach and impose criminal liability to him from the statements … and thereby deny this defendant a fair and impartial trial," Heggelund argues in the motion.
State District Judge Lou Daniel is presiding over the case.
Hamid Ghassemi's cellphone records indicate he received a call from Ashpaugh about 12:45 a.m. the morning after Taherah Ghassemi disappeared, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office has said. Ashpaugh's phone records show he had been at her home the night she disappeared, and at the sites where her body and car were found.
Hamed Ghassemi, the son of Hamid and Taherah Ghassemi, is suing his father and the three other murder defendants in the same courthouse where the criminal case is filed. Hamed Ghassemi is seeking monetary damages.
The lawsuit says Hamid and Taherah Ghassemi divorced in February 2015, and that she received $1.1 million in cash and two homes from him as part of the division of community property. Hamid Ghassemi timely and fully satisfied those financial obligations, the suit states.