Granville county sheriff

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins is charged with felony obstruction of justice for allegedly advising someone on how to kill a former deputy. A petition has been filed to remove him from office.

OXFORD — Five years ago, Granville County District Attorney Michael Waters gave the FBI a recording that involved Sheriff Brindell Wilkins discussing killing a former deputy.

Waters was in private practice at the time and was concerned for his client, Granville County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Freeman. Freeman had another recording of the sheriff using racist language, and in the new recording, Brindell said, "The only way you gonna stop him is kill him," meaning Deputy Freeman.

Waters later gave the same recording to the State Bureau of Investigation, he said in an interview with The News & Observer on Wednesday. But no charges came until Monday, almost a year after Waters asked Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman to assist with the case.

Indicted on Monday with two counts of felony obstruction of justice, he remains in office. He was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

But five years after he brought the recording to investigators' eyes, Waters said, "It has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more efficient."

Waters may be called as a witness in the case and is not leading the investigation, though he has vowed assistance from his prosecutor's office.

Why has it taken five years for federal investigators to act on the allegations?

On Tuesday, Granville County Attorney Jim Wrenn said he did not know any more about the case other than what had been released publicly.

He said county commissioners had met Tuesday to discuss the sheriff's status, but they do not hold any supervisory power over his elected position. A state statute allows him to seek the sheriff's removal through the courts, but he said he has not heard the recording and does not have enough information to make a decision.

Calls to commissioners in Granville County have so far gone unanswered. The sheriff has not returned calls this week.

Wilkins began serving in 2009 and was reelected most recently in 2018. He was unopposed.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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