Wife accused of trying to hire hit man to kill husband to appear in court

GASTONIA, N.C. — A woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to murder her husband will make her first court appearance Tuesday in a Gastonia courtroom.

Channel 9 was the only TV station at the courthouse Monday as Gastonia police officers took Jessica Philbeck to jail. A man told police that Philbeck wanted to hire him to kill Thomas Paysour.

Eyewitness News reporter Ken Lemon spoke to Paysour about the arrest. Paysour said he had just talked to her before she was arrested.

Paysour told Lemon that he has no idea why she would want him killed. He said her conversation with an alleged hit man, who was actually a police informant, was captured on video.

The man said he became scared the moment Philbeck asked him to take part in a murder for hire plot. He went to a friend in law enforcement and agreed to go undercover to expose her.

In court, Philbeck shook her head as the prosecutor explained that she offered to pay $20,000 to have her estranged husband killed.

"She is a danger to the community,” the prosecutor said.

He said he was hired to do work on Philbeck's home in Gastonia and she offered him an opportunity to make much more money.

"I was stunned. I didn't know what to do,” he said.

The man said he went to police immediately and agreed to take part in secret video recordings for the next three to four days.

"He was wired. He had audio and video,” the prosecutor said.

The man said Philbeck had a detailed plan to have her husband killed.

He said she told him she would provide the gun.

The man refused to disclose all of the things she asked him to do.

"She said some pretty nasty things,” he said.

Police told Paysour that his wife had the plot to have him killed while they were investigating.

Paysour said he kept quiet for a few days and then confronted her.

"I just don't really know how to take it,” Paysour said.

Paysour said his wife told him she was using drugs heavily that week and she only had vague memories of chats with the informant.

Michael Neece, Philbeck’s attorney, didn't ask to have her $1 million bond changed.

"I'm going to speak to my client and start working on the case,” Neece said. Start defending her and seeing what evidence the state has."

The couple lived a west Gastonia house with a white picket fence, but were separated.

The couple has had a rocky past and had taken out orders of protection on each other.

In 2010, police stopped Philbeck for impaired driving. They said it appeared she was high on crack and had her 7-year-old in the car with her, unrestrained.

She is currently locked in a custody battle with her husband over one of their children.

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