LAS VEGAS - Christopher Moseley said he was in a drunken stupor and needed a wheelchair to get to an airplane when he ordered the death of an ex-prostitute who was a family nemisis.
Moseley testified in U.S. District Court Monday that he spent much of his time in a drunken haze in the summer of 1998, consuming half-a-gallon of vodka per day.
And he testified his wife, du Pont family heiress Lisa Dean Moseley, knew nothing of the murder plot.
Moseley, 59, was so drunk on the night of July 29, 1998, that he needed a wheelchair to get from a passenger drop-off area to his plane for a return trip to Philadelphia, he told jurors.
It was during that wheelchair ride that he ordered the hit on Patricia Margello, a former prostitute who was in a drug-plagued relationship with his stepson, Dean MacGuigan, he said.
Moseley testified he flew to Las Vegas twice that July in a futile effort to stabilize his stepson's life. The plan was dubbed ''Operation Dean'' and consisted of trying to find MacGuigan a place to live, a job, drug rehab and support through a divorce from a wife who was getting ''every penny'' of his trust fund.
Failing all four of those goals, Moseley said he ordered ''step five'' - Margello's death.
Margello, 45, was strangled at a Las Vegas motel on Aug. 2, 1998. Her body was found three days later, stuffed in trash bags and crammed in a motel air conditioning duct.
Moseley and Diana Hironaga, 41, have pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. Ricardo Murillo, 38, is on trial for allegedly strangling Margello for a $10,000 fee.
Moseley testified Monday his wife was not involved in the murder plot, although they had discussed ways to end Margello's relationship with MacGuigan, great-great-grandson of a DuPont Co. founder.
He said he told his wife of Margello's death 10 days after Margello was killed.
''Have any of your attorneys told you that this could constitute a crime on your wife's part?'' Assistant Public Defender Arthur Allen asked Moseley under cross-examination.
''At no time was my wife involved in any of this,'' Moseley said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom O'Connell, who is prosecuting the case, said there were no charges against Mrs. Moseley.
One law enforcement source who requested anonymity said there was nothing with which to charge Mrs. Moseley because ''you need to take affirmative action to conceal a crime'' and that was not done.
Moseley, of Centerville, Del., was arrested Sept. 17 at a golf course he was developing.
Moseley testified he sent MacGuigan to Las Vegas on July 4, 1998, to establish residency and seek a divorce from his wife, Linda MacGuigan, who he said was nicknamed ''Rags.''
He said Mrs. MacGuigan was draining his stepson's trust fund.
At the same time, Moseley said he wanted to end his stepson's relationship with Margello.
He gave his stepson $10,000, which he spent in one week in Las Vegas on gambling and drugs.
Moseley testified he flew to Las Vegas, met Hironaga while playing video poker, and hired her to carry out ''Operation Dean.''
When it failed, he said he told Hironaga to kill Margello.
Murillo and Joseph Balignasa were recruited to help in the killing, he said.
Balignasa, 26, faces state charges in Margello's death. His first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors consulted a dictionary and telephone book.
Moseley said his stepson had been ''in and out of drugs since he was a teen-ager,'' becoming more involved in the last two years. He said MacGuigan and Margello were in a ''dysfunctional'' relationship.
His own life mirrored his stepson's, Moseley said. He said he would begin drinking when he woke in the morning, then ''drink 'til I would fall asleep.'' He described himself as ''dysfunctional'' by evening.
Moseley said he returned to Las Vegas in late July. After futile efforts to talk to Margello and MacGuigan, he had Hironaga take him to the airport for the return trip to Philadelphia.
As Hironaga wheeled him to the gate for his flight, he said he told her to ''go ahead with step five, the murder of Patty Margello. I'd had enough.''
He said he received a fax from Hironaga at his Centerville home a couple of days later saying that ''step five was about to happen.''
On the morning of Aug. 2, Moseley said he received a voice mail message from Hironaga: ''Step five was complete. Patty was no longer a problem.''