FROM STAFF REPORTS
SAN SABA — Less than a month after a Burnet County jury found the mastermind behind a double-murder guilty, State District Judge Allan Garrett sentenced two more co-conspirators in the San Saba County case to long prison terms.
On May 15, Garrett levied a life sentence with no possibility of parole against Carl Pressley, 30, for murdering Karen Johnson at a residence on U.S. 190 in San Saba County on March 25, 2012, before kidnapping the homeowner, Bonnie Harkey, 85, and taking her to Leon County and killing her as well.
Lillian Annette King, 27, who assisted Pressley in transporting Harkey to Leon County, was sentenced to 45 years in prison, though she could be eligible for parole in 22½ years.
At the heart of the case was one man’s greed.
On April 29, a Burnet County jury found Bruce Wayne Harkey, 61, guilty of capital murder (with renumeration) for his role in the death of the elder Harkey and Johnson. Under Texas law, once the jury found the man guilty of the capital murder offenses, Garrett had to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Though Bruce Wayne Harkey wasn’t present at the deaths of either victims, District Attorney Sonny McAfee presented evidence showing the man hired Pressley to kill Bonnie Harkey.
Bruce Wayne Harkey was Bonnie Harkey’s stepson. Pressley was the woman’s adopted grandson.
Bonnie Harkey held substantial property in San Saba County, most of it as the Harkey Pecan Orchard. Upon her death, Pressley was in line to inherit part of the estate.
During the 61-year-old’s trial, prosecutors showed Bruce Wayne Harkey had bought Pressley’s rights to the land, which meant it would fall into his lap.
Bruce Wayne Harkey paid Pressley a $100 down payment of a $250 total to kill the elderly woman.
According to the district attorney, Pressley enlisted KIng’s assistance to kidnap Bonnie Harkey on March 25, 2012, when she and her caregiver, Johnson, returned from church. The initial plan was for King to distract Johnson so Pressley could subdue the elderly woman, but things changed when the caregiver saw Pressley.
Pressley then suffocated Johnson and left her body at the residence, where her young son found her.
The two, Pressley and King, then drove Bonnie Harkey to Leon County in East Texas, where Pressley struck her on the head and drowned her in a creek.
When the returned to San Saba County, law enforcement officers arrested them.
Both Pressley and King confessed to the crimes, according to the district attorney’s office.
In separate interviews, King and Pressley named Bruce Wayne Harkey as the one who offered to pay for Bonnie Harkey’s murder, according to the district attorney’s office.
The district attorney’s office waived the death penalty in Pressley’s case in exchange for his guilty plea and his testimony against Bruce Wayne Harkey. King, who also testified against Bruce Wayne Harkey, pleaded guilty to her role in the murders for a 45-year prison term.
McAfee expressed his gratitude to all the people who helped during the investigation that led to the arrests and convictions of the three “dangerous felons” who plotted and carried out the murder of Bonnie Harkey.