SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The wife of a slain Fort Stewart soldier schemed with her brother to kill her husband in exchange for a $160,000 insurance policy payout, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
Lillie Eubank, 39, told investigators she arranged to have her brother, Carl Evan “Cowboy” Swain, travel from Alabama to Savannah, bought a T-ball bat and selected the site for the attack at a recreation park on Fort Stewart, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Heaps Ippolito said.
The victim, Army Spc. John Joseph Beans Eubank, 29, was found badly injured Nov. 30 by another solider. He was taken to Winn Army Community Hospital, where he died from blunt force trauma.
Lillie Eubank is charged with murder in the case. If convicted, she faces life in prison or the death penalty. Ippolito told U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith Tuesday she expects to present the case against Lillie Eubank to a federal grand jury Wednesday.
“This is a clear case for pre-trial detention,” Smith ruled in ordering the defendant to remain in custody.
He said the defendant is destitute, a flight risk and a danger to the community if released.
Smith denied a defense request for a preliminary hearing but said that if prosecutors fail to obtain an indictment this week, he will schedule a preliminary hearing in the case next week.
Swain, 43, was indicted Jan. 9 on a murder charge with special findings and remains in custody.
Prosecutors are expected to seek permission from the Justice Department to seek the death penalty in that case.
According to Ippolito, the defendant planned to pay her brother $30,000 in cash from her husband’s $500,000 life insurance policy over several mailings to his home in Alabama. She planned to use the remainder to pay her own bills and start a business, the prosecutor said.
The defendant provided a “confession” to investigators on Feb. 26 during a two-and-a-half hour video, admitting she conspired with Swain to murder her husband to get the benefits from his life insurance, the prosecutor said.
The defendant admitted choosing the slaying site because she wanted the body to be found and, afterward, helped Swain fill an Army duffle bag belonging to the victim to return by bus to Alabama, Ippolito said.
She told Smith the crime was “committed in cold blood for financial gain.”
Ippolito also outlined the defendant’s history of mental health problems, including substance abuse dating from alcohol at age 4 and expressed concerns that a “despondent” defendant might hurt herself if released.
Lillie Eubank grew up in foster care as part of what the prosecutor described as a “dysfunctional family.”
Court-appointed defense attorney Bill Bell, who only recently got the case, pointed out that the defendant told investigators she tried to stop her brother from doing this and attempted to withdraw.
But Ippolito said her statements actually were that she wished she had stopped it and that “she knew she would be going to prison for a long time.”
Bell also took issue with the prosecutor’s assertion that Lillie Eubank bought the bus ticket for her brother, telling the judge the victim actually purchased it on a computer.
Evidence showed that Lillie Eubank is destitute and must leave base housing on Fort Stewart where she no longer has a right to remain. She no longer has any community ties and her family lives in Starke, Fla.