Polite, articulate and occasionally emotional, Lori Evans of Pecos told a 35th District Court jury Thursday how her marriage to Michael Bien, formerly of Brownwood, crumbled as Bien became increasingly angry and controlling.
The two were living in Pecos with their two children when they were divorced, and Evans is now remarried. Her testimony came in the punishment phase of Bien's trial after jurors convicted Bien, 38, on two first-degree felony charges:
• Criminal attempt — capital murder
• Criminal solicitation
Evans was still testifying as of late Thursday afternoon.
Jurors by their guilty verdicts earlier Thursday indicated they believed Bien had tried to hire a hit man to kill his ex-brother-in-law, a man named Koh Box. Box is Evans' sister, and Bien wanted to punish his ex-wife and her family by having Box killed, according to testimony.
Defense attorney Jason Johnson had sought to convince jurors that Bien was a victim of entrapment. Johnson sought to show that Bien's longtime friend Mickey Westerman, also a former Brownwood man, had goaded Bien into hiring a hit man and had even loaned Bien the money to pay the hit man, and then worked with Texas Rangers as a confidential informant to make a case against Bien.
While unable to provide a direct answer, Johnson, in his closing argument Thursday morning, asked about possible reasons for Westerman's actions, including, Johnson suggested, Westerman's desire for "an early release from probation" and Westerman's relationship with Lori Bein, as she was then known. The two had communicated by phone, text and Facebook, according to testimony.
Jurors earlier saw a video of Westerman telling Texas Rangers that he viewed Lori Bien as his "little sister" and said the two were never romantically involved.
District Attorney Micheal Murray reminded jurors of testimony and video and audio recordings that refuted the defense theory of entrapment and showed showed that Bien had intended to have Box killed.
Murray read jurors transcripts from recordings of phone calls between Bien and Westerman in which Bien said:
"I want Koh Box dead."
"I'm going to (expletive) kill the (expletive) …"
"I want the (expletive) to up and disappear and them spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened to him."
"I spent hours in jail planning this (expletive) out." Bien had been arrested on an allegation of making a terroristic threat against Lori Bien and the man she was preparing to marry, according to testimony.
"I want it done. I want it done right. … I want the (expletive) dead."
Bien went on to meet with a man he thought was a hit man — actually a Department of Public Safety undercover agent. Bien gave the "hit man" directions on how to find Box, described the vehicles he owns and drew a map to his house, Murray said in his closing argument.
Bien also told the undercover agent he might be able to get a loan from Westerman to pay for the murder.
Bien was arrested in Brownwood after getting into a vehicle with the undercover agent in the Walmart parking lot on Dec. 7, 2012, and giving him money, according to testimony.
According to an Aug. 10, 1999 wedding announcement in the Pecos Enterprise, Box was a groomsman in the Pecos wedding of Bein and Lori Box. Koh Box lived in Irving, according to the Enterprise article.
Lori Box and Bien met while they were both attending Tarleton State University, according to testimony.