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Nev. woman convicted in estranged husband's murder plot

LAS VEGAS - A jury has convicted a Las Vegas woman of conspiring with her brother and son to kill her estranged husband for $250,000 in insurance money.

On Tuesday, jurors found 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 a highway.

Amy Bessey, who was the only witness in her defense, denied she had part in the shooting.

Prosecutors alleged that Bessey enlisted her ex-convict brother, Richard Pearson, and her son, Michael Bessey, to kill Robert Bessey.

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 acknowledged 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 beat her in their bedroom in May 2012 and drew a gun during a 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.  

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.

Prosecutor Giordani said that Amy Bessey wasn't at the scene of the shooting and didn't pull the trigger, but she plotted the crime, and was in close cellphone contact with her ex-convict brother, Richard Pearson, before and after the shooting. She also drove to meet Pearson and her son, Michael, at a diner a short time afterward.

"Everything leads back to Amy Bessey," Giordani said.

Bessey's defense lawyer, Augustus Claus, said prosecutors failed to prove her client 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."

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