As Robert Bessey drove to work in the early hours of the morning, he had a lot on his mind.
His 18-year marriage had collapsed and people were gossiping about the ‘unnatural’ relationship between his estranged wife and her biological son, Michael. Robert had adopted him when he was a toddler and they’d been close, but now his marriage was in tatters, he knew Michael had played a part in it.
Robert spotted a gold vehicle in the wing mirror. Suddenly, the rear window shattered and Robert felt a searing hot pain on the back of his neck. Instinctively, he reached up. It felt wet.
As he took his hand away, it was red with blood. Shaking, Robert pulled to the side of the road and dialled 911. "I think I’ve been shot," he cried in disbelief. But as he fought to stay conscious, there was something else he could hardly believe. He recognised the gold car. And that meant someone he knew had tried to kill him.
Robert, 49, had been married to Amy for 18 years. They had three children together and two each from previous relationships. Robert had adopted Amy’s son Michael two years after they got married, and they had been close. But since Michael, 21, had moved back home after being dishonourably discharged from the military, there’d been friction.
Amy and Michael were inseparable, but the rumour was that their relationship was ‘unnatural’ and people had started talking. The mother and son would go clubbing together and were seen touching each other’s bottoms.
Michael split up from his girlfriend, who blamed Amy’s ‘closeness’ to her son. Then the Bessey couple started divorce proceedings. But Amy didn’t want the divorce to be finalised. It wasn’t because she wanted her husband back – she wanted his life insurance.
If Robert died, Amy would get $250,000, so she needed him dead before the divorce was completed. She turned to two people she trusted – Michael, and her brother Richard Pearson, 39, who had just come out of prison after serving time for an undisclosed crime.
At 4.30am on 14 November 2012, Robert was driving to his job as a construction worker when he saw the gold SUV pulling up beside him in the next lane. Robert recognised it – it belonged to his brother-in-law’s girlfriend.
Then the shot was fired through the window, which hit him in the neck. As the SUV screeched away, Robert managed to park up and call for help. Patrol officers couldn’t believe he’d been shot, but it was confirmed when doctors removed the bullet at the hospital. Incredibly, he survived.
At first, police thought it could be a road rage attack, but Robert remembered the distinctive SUV. There was also CCTV footage of Richard and Michael in the vehicle near
the scene of the shooting.
Meanwhile, Amy was astounded her estranged husband had survived the hit. In an attempt to hide her guilt, she co-operated with police and identified her son and brother in the CCTV recording.
The police charged Richard and Michael with attempted murder. "I had no idea what was going on, I wish I did," Amy told press at the time.
Despite suspecting Amy was the mastermind behind the plot, police didn’t have enough evidence to charge her until three months later, when Michael’s cell mate Tremel Palmer came forward with new information.
He said Michael had told him all three of them had been in on it together. Michael had agreed to the plan because he’d get $40,000 and he wanted to buy a new truck. Amy was going to pay off her mortgage. Michael had bragged he’d been the one who’d fired the shot – and admitted he’d planned on blaming the killing on his uncle.
Finally, Amy was arrested and charged. When the trial began in 2014, she pleaded not guilty. The jury were told Amy had been heard wishing her husband dead, but when she took to the stand she claimed she’d said that because she was tired of his abuse. She didn’t really wanthim to die.
Amy said Robert was controlling and had been violent before. "He took his fist to my face, he took his knee to my rib," she testified. "I grabbed my purse and walked out the door." Amy admitted she had a gun in the house and could have shot him at any time – but she didn’t.
Robert, who was fully recovered, also took to the stand and described the moment he was shot. "I felt a hot sensation towards the back of my neck. I started feeling what I believed to be a bullet," he told the court. "This is my sweatshirt. You can see the hole in the neck."
The victim also spoke about the relationship between Michael and his wife. "They seemed to be closer, more than just mother-son," he testified.
The prosecution played the court footage from a petrol station near the crime scene. It showed Richard and Michael together in the gold SUV. They also read out a text that Richard Pearson had sent his sister just hours before the shooting: "I love it when a plan comes together."
After a two-week trial, the jury found Amy, 43, guilty of seven felony charges, including conspiracy and attempted murder. In March 2014, she was sentenced to between 14 and 44 years in prison.
A few months later, Richard and Michael pleaded guilty to conspiracy and attempted murder charges and were both sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison.
Robert was keen to put the whole ordeal behind him. He told the media: "I have forgiven everybody. I need to forgive, so I can move on with my life. Nobody’s died here, so moving on is dealing with family with a forgiving heart."
Robert survived the shooting, but Amy and her hitmen couldn’t escape justice.