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Murder plot case in family feud gets even stranger

Brian Roger, Houston Chronicle
Updated 12:29 am, Wednesday, May 8, 2013
  • Nine charges of environmental offenses have been filed against Clair Wolf.

    Nine charges of environmental offenses have been filed against Clair Wolf.

 

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A vicious inheritance fight that apparently has seen a brother send his sister a gift-wrapped bomb took an even more cold-blooded turn Tuesday when prosecutors alleged that Clair Wolf specified the order he wanted his two sisters and one of their husbands killed when he hired a hitman last year.

Wolf, 66, believed he would get the most inheritance money out of the three deaths if the inmate he hired while incarcerated at the Harris County jail last year first killed his brother-in-law, then his sisters.

"He thought they were taking his things, and it consumed him," prosecutor Wes Rucker told jurors during opening statements in Wolf's trial for solicitation of capital murder Tuesday. "He meant for his sisters to die, he wanted his sisters to die. Then he would get all his things back."

Instead of killing three people for money, William Maceachran instead told the authorities about the offer, earning Wolf a solicitation of capital murder charge. Maceachran was spending nine months in jail after pleading guilty to drug possession.

Wolf's attorney, Sid Crowley, did not give an opening statement Tuesday, but said he expects to argue that Maceachran is lying.

"The informant is making up a lot of stuff," Crowley said. "That's our contention."

The trial, in state District Judge Katherine Cabaniss' court, is the second criminal trial that the estate of Wolf's parents has spawned.

In 2011, Wolf was sentenced to five years behind bars after being convicted of several environmental crimes related to water pollution, illegal dumping and discarding hazardous wastes on properties that his parents acquired around the county.

Wolf had been using the properties for various businesses, including oil recycling and garbage collection, and dumped used oil, hazardous waste and trash on the land, investigators said.

After he was accused of trying to kill his sisters, Vennie and Elizabeth Wolf, last year, authorities linked him to a bomb left on his sister's doorstep that blew up in her face two years earlier.

A mediator in June 2010 ruled that Clair Wolf would receive about $20,000 and several properties, which was a smaller share of his parents' $2 million estate than what his sisters were to receive.

His sisters cleaned up the polluted properties when they became executors of their parents' wills.

Four days after the ruling, a gift bag with a box of chocolates and a shoebox sized package arrived at Vennie Wolf's home.

When she opened the package a few weeks later, a homemade bomb exploded, injuring her left eye, two of her fingers, her hip and other parts of her body.

She testified Tuesday that there was a note that said: "To Vennie. I hope you enjoy this."

Clair Wolf was charged with aggravated assault for the explosion. That charge is still pending.