Special Report: Sex, Lies, and Audiotape - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Special Report: Sex, Lies, and Audiotape

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As former head of security for Memphis City Schools, John Britt was a daily fixture on television newscasts.  Then he became news, when he was convicted in 2004 of trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife and mother-in-law.

Friday, Britt will make his case for a new trial, after losing an appeal several years ago.

"They convicted me on attempt to attempt to solicit, two or three steps away from an actual crime," he said.

A jury convicted this father of three of trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife and mother in law.  During Britt's sentencing, Nancy Mitchell described her former son-in-law as self centered; an arrogant "Jekyll and Hyde" personality.

"There is definitely an evil dark side to John Britt," she said during the hearing.

Britt's ex-wife Laurie told the court her life and the lives of their three young children had been turned upside down.

"My son asked me, 'What is a hit man?' My heart was pulled out of my chest to see my children exposed to this horrible crime by their father," she said.

According to Britt, his perfect life quickly went out of control five years ago when he started having an affair with the wife of a Bartlett police officer, Kim Devers.  Britt said his wife found out about the affair, and eventually filed for divorce.  Britt said when Laurie wouldn't allow him to see their children, he told Devers' brother, Jan Welch, that he needed a hitman.

"John wanted to know if I could find somebody to have his wife killed," Welch testified during Britt's trial.

Welch went from friend to informant for the Bartlett police.

"The things I said to Mr. Welch, who was unbeknownst to me wearing a body wire, were things I would have said to a buddy," Britt said.

Britt said he was just venting, he didn't mean what he said, and never paid any money to anyone. He believes Bartlett Police had it in for him because he was sleeping with an officer's wife.

"I just thought this was retaliation from a few in the Bartlett Police Department," he said.

But a didn't see it that way, and Judge Bernie Weinman handed down a stiff sentence: 10 years on each count, to be served consecutively.  Britt was able to get it down to two, 8-year sentences, but he believes his ex-wife and former mother in law don't want him to get out early.

They showed up for his first parole hearing last year to protest.

"I had a hunch they would," he said, "just as vindictive as they have been throughout the process."

Britt's ex-wife and mother-in-law did not want to be interviewed for this story.  Britt believes he will face them again, when he is granted a new trial.

"I'm willing to fight for that and that's my position and I'm going to stick with it," Britt said. "I've got a reputation to uphold. It's a personal belief. I know I wasn't guilty of the crime they convicted me of. I'm going to fight the system all the way to the end."

The Bartlett Police Department would not address Britt's accusations because the case may go back to trial. Spokesperson Rory Mack said the department stands behind its original investigation.

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