A Bryan man hired my client out of soldier of Fortune Magazine to kill his wife. The victim had done nothing to deserve killing, except for spectacularly bad judgment in her choice of a spouse. Her husband was having a torrid affair with a beautiful young woman who happened to be his first cousin.
Instead of just divorcing his wife, hubby decided he needed a large sum of money to accompany his new found freedom. He took a $100,000.00 insurance policy on his wife’s life and then contacted my client for a “high risk assassination.”
My client flew from his home in Florida to do the job. The husband let him in the house to wait for the target to get home from her grocery shopping. When she came in my client shot her behind her ear with her own pistol. She fell on the kitchen floor and was still breathing; so my client put another round through her eye.
When the husband got to the house he decided to send his 12 year old son in to make the discovery of the body. Meanwhile back in Florida, my client had been hired by his girlfriend and her sister to kill their respective husbands, which he did.
Naturally the murder of two men, with no known enemies or criminal connections who happened to be married to sisters aroused suspicion. In a bizarre postscript my client attended one of the funerals posing as his girlfriend’s lost cousin and a freelance photographer.
He took a picture of the widow placing a rose on her husband’s grave. My client decided to make a pilgrimage to Colorado to visit his hero, Robert Brown the publisher of Soldier of Fortune. While in Colorado, he turned himself in to the police and confessed.
The Defendant was a big tough looking man who had killed numerous people while serving in Vietnam. When I saw him on TV, he reminded me of Bluto from the Popeye comics. I got a call from the District Judge’s office notifying me of my appointment with instructions to go see him in the jail at once.
My office was located across the street from the jail, so I got there very quickly. The jailers said, “The consultation rooms are full but you can talk to him in the kitchen, we’ll have to lock you both in.”
Being locked up with a Bluto-looking hired killer was unsettling enough, but when the kitchen door closed I realized there were knives, cleavers and other cutlery hanging on the kitchen wall.
My client turned to face me and he was indeed a bid Bad Ass Looking Dude. He was also crying hysterically. “Mr. Banks, they’re gonna kill me! They’re gonna kill me.” I thought “This guy is as big a Weenie as I would be if I was in his boots.” From that time on I was very comfortable talking to him.
The local victims’ family was given the choice of seeking the death sentence on my client or the husband. They opted to have the husband prosecuted for Capital Murder and my client received three (3) life sentences in return for testifying against the husband and his girlfriend and her sister.
At the husband’s trial the courtroom was packed with both spectators and security. I was directed to sit next to my client while he testified against the husband.
He made a very effective witness and the jury ended up sentencing the husband to Death by Lethal Injection. When I got off the stand the Sheriff (a good friend of mine) said, “You looked pretty calm up there Phil, I guess all those death threats against your client didn’t scare you any.” I was blissfully unaware of any such threats when I was sitting next to him but instead I indicated to the Sheriff that I wasn’t concerned about such nonsense.
The State of Texas put the husband to sleep and although I am not a big death penalty man (unless somebody hurts a member of my family) I thought he had it coming for sending his son into the house to find his murdered mother.
I ended up actually being friends (as much as I could) with my client. He was genuinely remorseful about the killings he had done at home and abroad. At one point he asked if I could get my Pastor to come visit him.
I told Father Oxly about the situation and said “He probably should have gotten the death sentence for what he did.” Father Oxly said “ I guess we are all lucky to not receive the penalties we deserved.” Father Oxly and my client and I all prayed together in the jail that day and in the years since I have come to appreciate the wisdom and goodness of Father Oxly’s observations.
Below please find two local media articles from the case: