Jo Ann Wilbert

Jo Ann Wilbert

A trial date has been set in a capital murder case of a woman accused of hiring a man to kill her neighbor just over four years ago in Killeen.

Jo Ann Wilbert, 65, is booked into the Bell County Jail facing a charge of capital murder by remuneration, a capital felony, with a $1 million bond, according to jail records.

"Attorneys in the case were able to set a trial date with the court for March 4, 2019," said Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza, on Thursday. "This was the first available date to schedule the trial of the case."

Wilbert is accused of hiring Andrew Lenard Hardesty, 33, to shoot and kill 64-year-old Christine Watkins on Oct. 20, 2014, in the 1400 block of Pine Drive in Killeen. Watkins was a Killeen Independent School District bus driver, leaving for work the morning she was shot 12 times in front of her husband.

A jury convicted Hardesty of capital murder on Aug. 1 in the 27th Judicial District Court and he was sentenced to life without parole. Part of the murder was captured on the Watkins family security camera, according to testimony during the Hardesty trial on July 31.

Hardesty was charged on Oct. 1, 2015, and almost two years later, Wilbert was indicted by a Bell County grand jury on July 26, 2017. She had moved to Brevard County, Florida, from which she was extradited on Aug. 9, 2017, according to Killeen police.

The murder happened over a dispute between Watkins and Wilbert, who were neighbors, according to testimony during Hardesty's trial.

At first, the Watkins family and Wilbert were friends. They even had pizza together. But the relationship soured around 2012, when the Watkins family, who owned and rented out other houses on the street, decided to rent a home to a Hispanic family, according to the testimony of Ken Watkins, Christine Watkins's husband, at Hardesty's trial.

"She said that if we rented to them we would regret it for the rest of our lives," Watkins told the jury. "After that, (Wilbert) was constantly harassing us."

In 2014, Wilbert sued the Watkins's, unsuccessfully, over a fence dispute. Watkins said Wilbert started filing complaints with code enforcement that were not valid and the harassment progressed to setting curtains on fire in the Watkins home.

Hardesty's former girlfriend, Julia Driskell, testified during Hardesty's trial on Aug. 1 that he was angry that Wilbert never paid him the full $5,000 he was owed.

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