Murder for hire

Friday, October 29th 2004, 6:35 am
By: News On 6

Jury selection begins next week in Muskogee in a federal case of murder for hire. One person already pleaded guilty.

The twist is, the man who was supposed to be killed doesn't believe the other suspect is guilty. In fact, he's doing everything he can to make sure that suspect doesn't spend one day in prison.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright has the exclusive investigation.

Murder for hire is a crime more often associated with cities like Vegas or Miami, not Hulbert, Oklahoma, population 523.But betrayal and a deadly plot were born not far Hulbert.

First, the players: Brett Robertson, innocent husband and target for murder. Kate Robertson, depending on who you talk to, also an innocent victim or a money grubbing vixen and Hugh Means, the handsome lover from a wealthy family who admits he tried to hire a hit man.

This story begins about four yeas ago when Brett meets Kathryn, a single mother of two. They marry September 1st, 2001. Brett Robertson: "It was really love at first sight. We hit it off from the beginning." Brett begins his own business, something that takes up all his time and energy.

Money is tight and often the subject of fights. About that time, Kate accepts a good job managing the Means Furniture store in Tahlequah. By the following fall, Kate and Hugh Means begin an affair. He too is married, but separated. Brett: "I kinda figured there might be an affair, but, I didn't want to be a jealous person. I did that when I was younger and it was stupid."

The following Spring, the affair came to light and with it, a dark story. The small town fling turned into a big time crime. Court records show Hugh Means called and met a friend on March 15th and said, "I have a friend who needs to make someone go away. What's going on needs to quit. Do you know a professional? My people pay well."

What Means didn't know, was that the friend went to the FBI and agents tapped his phone and set up an undercover sting. Means agreed to pay the hit man $15,000 and $5,000 to the friend as a finder's fee. A week later, they drove to a motel in Van Buren, Arkansas and Means paid the professional a $5,000 down payment, what he didn't know was that it was all caught on tape and the hit man, actually an undercover agent.

Hugh Means was arrested the next day then indicted. Kate and Brett spent the next five months trying to start over. Brett: "I was mad. I know people make mistakes. Sometimes, it works that way. I'm a pretty forgiving person. I would want somebody to forgive me if they loved me."

Brett says he and Kate cooperated with investigators in every way, so what happened next, shocked them both. Means pleaded guilty in August and then pointed the finger at Kate. She was indicted, arrested and jailed without bond. She called from jail while we were at her house. Kate: "I have a very caring, understanding husband. We have worked through the affair and we've always had a good, strong marriage. We're best friends and throughout everything, I just want to get home to him and my boys."

US Attorney Sheldon Sperling says the law limits what he can say, but he's confident in the indictment. Sheldon Sperling: "In this case, as with other cases, the investigation continues and investigators learned new things and that's when charges were filed." Kate's accused of using a cell phone to try to hire a hit man to kill her husband. Her husband doesn't buy it and she denies it.

Lori Fullbright: "What, if anything did you have to do with the plot to kill your husband?" Kate: "I had nothing to do with the plot to try to kill my husband."

Brett says he hasn't seen any evidence his wife wanted him dead and he's standing beside her. Brett: "I'm not crazy. I wouldn't stand up for somebody I believed wanted me dead. I wouldn't stand up for them, if I had the slightest doubt, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't."

Kate's lawyer, Chad Richardson, says Hugh Means was obsessed with her, called her on family vacations, came to her house and is still trying to destroy her marriage. He says Hugh will get five years in prison for his part in the crime, where Kate, if she's found guilty, could get 10 years, yet her phones were never tapped and she was never videotaped hiring a killer.

The US attorney says other witnesses in this case back up Hugh's story. He also says the reason Kate is in jail without bond is because she tried to intimidate one of those witnesses.

Her trial begins Monday.