Life, no parole in bus driver death trial

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A Bell County jury Thursday found 33-year-old Andrew Lenard Hardesty guilty of capital murder in the shooting death of a popular Killeen ISD school bus driver.

Since the prosecution did not seek the death penalty,  the conviction results in an automatic sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the Killeen homeless man.

The capital murder finding came as a result of the case being a murder for hire offense.

Andrew Lenard Hardesty is accused of firing the shots that killed 64-year-old Christine Watkins,  found in her own driveway on Pine Drive in Killeen in July of 2014.

Prosecutors began calling witnesses in the case Tuesday after the 27th District Court jury was seated Monday.

Police say the woman was ambushed and shot several times.

A 64-year-old woman who had once been a neighbor of the victim was also brought back from Florida last year and also faces charges for her part in the death.

Jo Ann Wilbert has been named in an indictment charging capital murder for remuneration and solicitation for capital murder.

“Through the ongoing investigation detectives were able to link Ms.Wilbert with the homicide and make a connection with Hardesty who was the actual actor in that case,” said Lt. Frank Plowick of the Killeen Police Department at the time of her arrest, saying the murder stemmed from a neighborhood dispute between Watkins and Wilbert.

No trial date for Wilbert has been set, but she is scheduled to appear in a court hearing later this month.

Wilbert had been held without bond in the Bell County Jail after being brought back from Florida but has since been transferred to another facility.

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