Seated in a crowded courtroom Friday, Koh Box declined the opportunity to address his former brother-in-law, Michael Joseph Bien, who'd just been sentenced to two life terms for trying to have Box killed.
District Judge Steve Ellis said Box, the intended target in the murder-for-hire plan, had the right to address Bien, a Pecos man who formerly lived in Brownwood. District Attorney Micheal Murray said Box was declining the invitation.
A 35th District Court jury recommended the two life terms for Bien, 38, after finding him guilty of two charges — attempted capital murder and criminal solicitation.
Ellis said the sentences are not life without parole. The sentences will run concurrently, as they could not, by law, be stacked, Ellis said.
Members of the Box family took up one side of the courtroom, and Bien family members occupied the other side.
The murder-for-hire plan was rooted in Bien's anger following his divorce from his wife, Lori Box Bien, now Lori Evans. Bien believed there were issues between his ex-wife and her parents, testimony showed. Bien initially wanted to have his ex-parents-in-law killed but changed his plan to have Koh Box killed. His intent was to get revenge and to cause his ex-wife to suffer, according to testimony.
Bien contacted a longtime friend, Mickey Westerman, who is also from Brownwood and commissioned Westerman to find a hit man. But Westerman went to authorities and ended up working with Texas Rangers as a confidential informant, testimony showed.
Bien was arrested in Brownwood in December 2012 after he paid money to a man he thought was a hit man. The hit man was actually an undercover Department of Public Safety agent.
Defense attorney Jason Johnson sought to show that Bien was a victim of entrapment and had been goaded by Westerman into going along with a plan to hire a hit man.