BURNET, Texas (AP) — A Central Texas man faces life in prison for plotting the death of his stepmother so he could sell her lucrative pecan farm and make hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bruce Harkey was convicted Tuesday of capital murder for a 2012 scheme to kill his 85-year-old stepmother, Bonnie Harkey, and her housekeeper, Karen Johnson. His conviction carries an automatic life sentence without parole, the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1iIE72W ).
Harkey was charged after authorities discovered he had paid $500 to 29-year-old Carl Wade Pressley, Bonnie Harkey's adoptive grandson, to "make her gone this weekend." Harkey promised Pressley and his common-law wife, Lillian King, another $55,000 once Bonnie Harkey was dead.
Prosecutors accused him of engineering the plot after Bonnie Harkey's guardian refused to go along with his plans to sell the Harkey Pecan Farm for $574,000, allegedly to an agent for actor Tommy Lee Jones, who was born in San Saba, about 100 miles northwest of Austin.
Bonnie Harkey had left 94 acres in her will to Pressley, who then sold that interest to Bruce Harkey and his brother for about $70,000, prosecutor Sonny McAfee said.
Bonnie Harkey was still living on the farm, and her guardian believed she deserved more than the $44,000 the brothers were offering from the sale of the land, McAfee said. So, Bruce Harkey asked Pressley to "kill everybody" at the house, McAfee said.
Bonnie Harkey was reported missing on March 26, 2012, after Johnson's body was found at Harkey's home. Her body was eventually discovered 200 miles east, in a rural area in Leon County.
"This was all about greed," McAfee said.
Pressley and King have both pleaded guilty to murder charges and await sentencing, according to the San Saba County District Clerk's office.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com