Portales man pleads guilty in murder-for-hire case

Cody Guss

Cody Guss

Staff report

A Portales man charged in a murder-for-hire plot in March pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Albuquerque, according to an FBI news release.

Police say Cody Guss, 37, agreed to pay an undercover officer $5,000 to kill his wife.

The handyman and father of three met with an undercover officer of the Amarillo Police Department on March 26 in Clovis to provide the officer with a key to his residence and a hand-drawn map. He wanted the killing to be staged to look like a suicide, police said.

He was arrested March 27.

Guss entered his guilty plea without benefit of a plea agreement and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, the FBI release said.

According to the criminal complaint:

• During a meeting with an undercover officer on March 26 in Clovis, Guss provided the officer with a key that opened both the front and back doors of his home.

• Guss gave the officer a hand-drawn map to his residence and explained the closest residence to his was that of his great aunt who lived alone.

• Guss advised the officer he would leave home around 7:15 a.m. on March 27 to take his three children to school and would not return until 10 or 11 a.m. It was during that time that Guss wanted the killing to happen, for his wife would be home alone.

• Guss planned to go to a friend’s motorcycle shop and wait to hear his wife had been killed so that he could return to the residence. Upon return to his home, Guss would call 911 and report finding his wife’s body.

• Guss showed the officer photos of his wife he had stored on his cell phone.

• In recorded phone calls, Guss negotiated with the officer and agreed to pay $400 to $500 in travel expenses and another $5,000 when Guss receives his Social Security disability benefits.

• Guss said in recorded phone calls that he exhausted all of his options in dealing with his wife and that he “does not like what he has to do, but he has no other solution than to kill her,” and that his wife is not “playing with a full deck.”
Guss has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

In an April story published by the Portales News-Tribune, Kristi Guss said she did not believe her husband tried to hire someone to kill her.

Kristi Guss said the couple has been married 13 years and, like any couple, they’ve had their share of arguments and hard times; but she said there weren’t any problems they couldn’t work through.