Vincent Madhavath intended to kill his wife the night of Sept. 17, 2014.
Madhavath, 45, of Winter Haven, hired a hitman – who was an undercover Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent – and planned to have him enter their home after midnight for a staged armed robbery where his wife would be shot in the head.
After watching video recordings of these meetings and hearing testimonies from witnesses during a three-day trial that ended Thursday, a jury found Madhavath guilty of attempted first degree murder and solicitation to commit first degree murder.
The undercover agent met with Madhavath multiple times from May 2014 to Aug. 2014 to talk about how the murder would be carried out. In one of the videos the agent took, Madhavath is seen handing the agent $5,000 in cash and a photo of his wife.
“I’ll smack you around a little bit, and then I’m gonna pop her in the head,” the agent told Madhavath in a video recording played in court Tuesday.
“I’ll make it nice and easy,” the agent told him. “Good enough?”
Madhavath’s reply was simple: “Yes.”
Assistant State Attorney Ashley McCarthy told jurors in her closing statement that the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.
“You had the rare opportunity in this case to be a fly on the wall in the life of Vincent Madhavath,” she said. “The real Vincent Madhavath is in those recordings when he thought no one was watching … Those recordings are the most important pieces of evidence in this case because they show that he did it and that he meant to do it.”
Madhavath took the stand and told jurors that he didn’t mean to hire a hitman and that it was all a misunderstanding.
He told the jury he thought he was being targeted by people in his community who wished to drive him out of business. Instead of going to law enforcement – who Madhavath said he believed were corrupt – he hired a hitman from the same group of people he thought were out to get him.
All of the statements Madhavath made about the reason he was going to kill his wife are not consistent with a man who has two masters degrees and has lived in four different countries, McCarthy said.
“He’s too smart to do something that stupid,” she told the jury. “His own background and who he is is absolutely inconsistent with what he is telling you he actually believed. He’s telling you that because he got caught.”
McCarthy reminded jurors Madhavath should still be held accountable for his actions even though he was not the person who would have actually shot his wife.
“The reality of the situation … is that this man hired someone to kill his wife in his home with his children there,” McCarthy said. “He did it because he meant to do it – because he’s guilty.”
Madhavath was taken into custody by Judge Yancey and will be sentenced at a later date.