By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - A 56-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to the Christmas Day 2009 murder of a preacher he caught in bed with his wife.
Jeffery Linn Treacher at times cried softly during testimony Monday in the punishment phase of his trial. Treacher could face up to life in prison for the murder of Mark Allen Gibbs, 43, who acted as a preacher to him and his wife, Kim Treacher.
Defense attorney William Hines told the jury Treacher committed the murder in a fit of rage. "He was so in love with her he couldn't see straight," Hines said.
Whether Treacher committed the murder in an act of passion or in a premeditated manner will play into the severity of his sentence. The jury will continue to hear testimony today, and attorneys believe a sentence will be delivered by the end of the day.
During opening arguments, Hines told the jury Kim Treacher, 43, deceived her husband, a 20-year retired veteran of the Navy with no criminal history, into assuming her love was genuine. Instead, Hines told the court, she had been using Treacher for his money.
Treacher helped bring her house out of foreclosure and worked diligently to fix the home up. The two married in 2006 after meeting in 2003.
After what seemed like a happy marriage, Kim Treacher cut the marriage off suddenly in December 2009, Hines told the jury.
She kicked Treacher out of the home on Dec. 11, 2009, and he briefly stayed in San Antonio with one of his sons. But on Christmas Day he drove from San Antonio to Temple in a last-ditch effort to save his marriage with a final payment of $12,000 cash as a bargaining chip to convince Kim Treacher to stay with him.
On the way, he sent his wife text messages.
"I'm coming back home one last time," he wrote.
She replied, "What are you going to do?"
"What I do is dependent on what I see and find," he wrote.
When he arrived at the home, located off a dirt road in south Temple, he found the locks on the doors had been changed.
Treacher may or may not have forced his way into the home. But when he walked into the bedroom he found Gibbs and his wife both in a state of partial undress.
He fired eight hollow-point rounds from his .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, leaving two shots unfired. Gibbs died in the bedroom. Kim Treacher was shot and was found by police lying in a pool of blood. She survived.
Treacher then called 911. Though hysterical, he complied with the operator's direction to leave the gun in the bedroom and was told to await police outside. From hundreds of yards away, Temple police officers could hear Treacher sobbing uncontrollably as he sat on the porch of the home, one officer testified.
On him they found an additional unfired magazine and a cigar case containing $12,000 cash. They also checked to see if he was hurt.
"I asked if he was hurt and he said, 'I'm just heartbroken,'" Temple Officer Bert McCune told the court.
Treacher remains in Bell County Jail.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.