LAS VEGAS — A jury on Tuesday found a Las Vegas woman guilty of conspiring with her brother and son to kill her estranged husband for $250,000 in insurance money.
It took the jurors about five hours to find Amy Bessey guilty of all seven felony charges against her, including conspiracy and attempted murder in the November 2012 shooting that wounded Robert Bessey as he drove on Interstate 15.
Amy Bessey denied she had part in the shooting. She was the only witness in her defense.
Prosecutors alleged Amy Bessey enlisted her ex-convict brother, Richard Pearson, and her son, Michael Bessey, to carry out the shooting.
Pearson and Michael Bessey were arrested shortly afterward. They have pleaded not guilty to similar charges including conspiracy and attempted murder and are due for trial Feb. 24.
Amy Bessey's attorneys said they will likely appeal the jury's verdict. She is scheduled to be sentenced March 5 and could face more than 90 years in prison.
Prosecutors told the jury Tuesday that there is too much evidence against Amy Bessey to believe her denials.
Police found the insurance policy on top of a bag in her room, prosecutor John Giordani said Tuesday before turning the case over to the Clark County District Court jury to deliberate.
"Enough is enough. That was Amy Bessey's mindset when she began plotting the death of Robert Bessey," Giordani said, echoing her testimony Monday that she wanted to get out of an abusive marriage.
Amy Bessey acknowleged on the witness stand that she told several people she wished her husband was dead.
She described seeking a separation and obtaining protection orders after her husband of 18 years physically beat her in their bedroom in May 2012 and drew a gun during a household argument a few days later, loaded it, and pointed it at her and her children. She denied enlisting anyone to kill him.
Amy Bessey faced seven felony charges including conspiracy, attempted murder and solicitation to commit murder in the November 2012 shooting that wounded Robert Bessey as he drove to work before dawn on I-15.
She faced battery with a deadly weapon and firing a weapon counts under laws making all parties involved in a conspiracy responsible for crimes committed by the others.
Amy Bessey wasn't at the shooting and didn't pull the trigger, Giordani said. But she plotted the crime, the prosecutor said, and was in close cellphone contact with her ex-convict brother, Richard Pearson, before and after the shooting.
Amy Bessey also drove out to meet Pearson and her son, Michael Bessey, at a diner a short time afterward.
"Everything leads back to Amy Bessey," Giordani said.
Bessey's defense lawyer, Augustus Claus, derided the state's theory that Bessey orchestrated a plan to get rid of her husband a week after their divorce became final. Claus said prosecutors failed to prove Bessey had any responsibility for the shooting.
Claus said police and prosecutors never produced the weapon used in the shooting and relied on circumstantial evidence and unreliable witnesses, including Courtney Smith, the former girlfriend of Bessey's son.
Smith had been accused in a separate case of conspiring with Amy Bessey to kill Robert Bessey on Father's Day 2012 by giving him an energy drink laced with poison. She pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit a felony and awaits sentencing.
Claus alleged that Smith embellished testimony about her relationship and conversations with Amy Bessey to get a favorable plea deal, and provided details on the witness stand that she could only have known if she was told by others.
"Where did Courtney get her facts?" Claus asked.
"The state says you don't have to agree with their theory of liability," the defense attorney said. "But that's OK, you just need to agree that (Amy Bessey is) guilty. The state says the coincidences add up."