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Woman says new confession could free her from murder conviction

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis woman convicted of hiring someone to kill her husband says she finally has the proof that could set her free, in the form of a confession from her cousin.

During her trial in 2002, Brenda Holliman professed she loved her husband.

"I didn't want to have him killed," she said.

But secret recordings told a different story, in which Holliman's cousin, Rodney Mills, along with a named Keith Faglier, claimed she hired them to shoot and kill her husband so they could split the insurance money.

"The favor was done for you," Faglier said in a phone call to Holliman that was played during her trial. "It was successfully handled.  I don't want to be left hanging out to dry, and I don't want Rodney hanging out to dry."

There was even a meeting between Holliman and Faglier recorded on camera, in which Holliman said she owed Faglier almost $7,000.

Ultimately, all three were convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  Now, seven years later, Holliman says Rodney Mills has finally confessed to setting her up.

"I feel like the truth is finally surfacing, as it should," she said.

Incarcerated at River Ben Penitentiary in Nashville, Mills backed up Holliman's claim.

"Brenda's locked up for something she didn't do," he said.

Mills now claims he told prosecutors Brenda Holliman planned the murder to save himself at trial.

"I done this to keep from getting the death penalty," he said.

Mills said he made a deal with the prosecutor: If he rolled over on Brenda, the death penalty would be off the table.  But why would Mills want Charlie Holliman dead? At the time, Mills said, he was on the run from police for crimes in three states, and Holliman had turned him into authorities.

Mills said he and Faglier threatened to kill Brenda if she didn't go along with it.

"We told her we were going to kill her," he said. "She had no choice in this. She was going to get the insurance money and she was going to give us $50,000."

Holliman said the threats frightened her into silence.

"The reason I never said anything in all this time because I was threatened, and beaten that if I did that me and my family were going to get killed," she said.

During trial in 2002, Mills was described as a cold-blooded killer.  His accomplice, Keith Faglier, recounted the murder.

"He's in there maybe two or three minutes and I hear what sounded like two gunshots," Faglier said in court. "He comes out, gets in, throws the gun over to me and he says, 'I took care of that.' So we back out and he's pumped up a little, and he says, 'I killed Charlie,' and he says, 'I shot him.'"

But Mills tells a very different story about what happened.

"Keith shot him right there," he said. "He fell and Keith handed me the gun. I shot him in the neck."

It will now be up to the courts to decide if Mills is telling the truth. Holliman believes her cousin's confession  may be the key that sets her free.

"I did not do this," she said. "I did not plan this, and I'm not the bad person they portrayed me to be."

Meanwhile, Mills says his conscience won't let him lie any longer.

"I'm telling you the truth, Janice. I'm telling you the truth," he said.

The prosecutor in this case said in a recent interview that he would have asked for the death penalty for Rodney Mills, but Mills pleaded guilty before going to trial, and there was never any deal on the table.

Meanwhile, Brenda Holliman is appealing her sentence.  We were unable to talk to Keith Faglier.

When Action News 5 spoke to Rodney Mills, he also confessed to two other crimes, Mississippi and California.  Police are investigating those cases.

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