By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - Jeffery Linn Treacher, 56, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday night after a jury determined he acted in sudden passion in the shooting death of a preacher he found in bed with his wife on Christmas Day in 2009.

Treacher trembled as Judge Joe Carroll read his sentence, which was determined after the jury deliberated nearly eight hours. Treacher could have faced up to life in prison if the jury had decided his actions on the night he killed preacher Mark Allen Gibbs, 43, and shot his wife, Kim Treacher, 43, were premeditated.

Kim Treacher, who testified Tuesday, cried as she left the 27th District Court accompanied by family members. She remains married to Treacher.

One of Treacher's sons said, "I love you," as his father was handcuffed and led to Bell County Jail, where he has remained since he was arrested at the scene of the murder on Dec. 25, 2009, at his wife's home in south Temple.

He pleaded guilty Monday to murder and attempted murder.

Treacher was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the attempted murder charge. That sentence will run concurrently with the murder sentence. Treacher will be eligible for parole in nine years.

Police arrested Treacher the night of the murder after finding him weeping on the front porch of his wife's home. He summoned authorities shortly after shooting Gibbs multiple times, including twice in the back, as well as his wife, after he found the two in partial stages of undress in a bedroom.

Eight days earlier, Kim Treacher had told her husband the marriage was over. He packed up and moved out of the house two days later.

All the time, she had been in contact with Gibbs, who had counseled her daughter two months earlier. She sent messages speaking of her desire to be intimate with him.

Treacher was unaware of her feelings for Gibbs, she testified Tuesday. Treacher even suggested they use Gibbs as a counselor to help repair their marriage.

Defense attorney William Hines argued Kim Treacher had entered into marriage with Treacher solely for his money, which was partially substantiated by e-mails read in the court.

Treacher, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, helped his wife repair her home. His wife admitted while on the stand she postponed telling him the marriage was over until she felt like she was financially secure. She was extremely upset that Treacher removed cash from a safe in her home when he left Dec. 19.

On Dec. 23, Gibbs came to visit Kim Treacher. He stayed at her home, parking his car far from the driveway as to not arouse any suspicion.

Communication between Treacher and his wife continued to decrease until Christmas Day, when she changed her telephone number.

Unable to reach his wife, Treacher left his son's home in San Antonio with a revolver and $12,000 in cash. Hines argued Treacher was going to use the money as a way to buy his way back into the marriage. The prosecution told the court the money could have easily been used to leave the country.

When he arrived, he forced open the door to his wife's home - the locks had been changed - and went to the bedroom. He fired eight shots, killing Gibbs at the scene and injuring his wife.

He then called 9-1-1 and left his pistol in the bedroom. Temple police officers told the court they could hear Treacher sobbing from hundreds of yards away as they approached the home.

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