Lambesis, lead singer for the heavy metal band as i lay dying, looks on during his arraignment in san diego north county court in california

The lead singer of Christian metal band As I Lay Dying has pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hitman to kill his estranged wife. Tim Lambesis, 33, faces nine years in prison as part of a plea deal for soliciting murder, according to prosecutors.

He was arrested in May last year after an undercover sheriff’s deputy posed as a hitman. Lambesis gave him his wife’s name, Meggan Lambesis, a photo and address, along with $1,000 in cash and told him he wanted her dead.

Prosecutors claimed the undercover operation was staged after the singer told a man at his gym that he wanted his wife killed.

Mrs Lambesis had filed for divorce, claiming he had become emotionally distant, was preoccupied with bodybuilding and touring and spent money irresponsibly. She also later learned he was having an affair. The couple have three adopted children from Ethiopia.

As I Lay Dying formed in San Diego in 2000 and have released six albums, including 2007’s An Ocean Between Us, which reached number eight on the Billboard chart. A single from the album, Nothing Left, was nominated for a Grammy for top metal performance. Lambesis is out on $3m bail. He will be sentenced on May 2.