Woman convicted of hiring hitman kill beloved local school bus driver

Jo Ann Wilbert. (Jail photo)
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) Jo Ann Wilbert, 65, who was accused of hiring a hitman in 2014 to kill her neighbor, a beloved Killeen school bus driver, was convicted Friday of remuneration and solicitation of capital murder.

She was automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole because the state wasn’t seeking the death penalty.

Jurors in Belton deliberated for just more than two hours before returning the guilty verdict.

She is being held in the Bell County jail on a one million dollar bond

She was arrested in Florida after an indictment was handed up on July 26, 2017

The charge stems from the Oct 20, 2014 shooting death of Christine Watkins at her home in the 1400 block of Pine Drive, in Killeen.

She was gunned down as she left for work.

Officers who responded to reports of gunfire in the area found her in the driveway.

She died at the scene.

Watkins, 64, had worked for the Killeen school district for 35 years.

The alleged hitman, Andrew Leonard Hardesty, who was also charged in connection with the deadly shooting, was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in August 2018.

According to a 2015 arrest warrant affidavit, Hardesty told another man that “he had shot a woman while dressed in black and trying to be like the devil.”

A woman told investigators that Hardesty had told her “he had done things to…a woman’s residence to try to run her out of the neighborhood,” the affidavit said.

Investigators recovered the .40 caliber Sig Sauer pistol used in the deadly shooting from a man who said Hardesty gave him the weapon “for a debt,” the affidavit said.