By Associated Press - Saturday, May 23, 2015

YORK, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania man accused of trying to hire someone to kill a male acquaintance of his wife says in his defense that he didn’t want to kill anyone he just wanted the man beaten up.

Gregory Allen Hess, 47, of Seven Valleys testified Friday in his York County trial on charges of solicitation of criminal homicide and criminal use of a communication facility.

Prosecutors allege Hess paid a confidential informant $30,000 to kill Christopher Ward; instead, they say, Ward helped stage photos in a ruse to convince Hess that the murder had been committed.

Hess testified that he wanted to teach Ward not to “mess with” a married woman and didn’t know about any murder-for-hire until after he was accused of the charge.

“This whole thing got blown out of proportion,” he said he remembered thinking as he was taken into custody at a restaurant where authorities allege he handed over $1,900 to the informant.

Hess testified that he hoped to work things out with his wife and keep the family together. He said he only printed out pictures of the target and his home because he “wanted to see what he looked like.”

He said he offered the informant $1,000 to beat up the acquaintance - $500 down and $500 at completion - but later offered an additional $1,000 if the beating was completed by a certain date because several days had passed with no action.

Hess faces separate charges alleging that he tried to arrange the murder of the informant and then tried to have the second “hit-man” killed after he also turned out to be an informant.

The trial resumes Tuesday.

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