Two defendants in the 2012 shooting death of Gene Sabin have been sentenced to life in prison, but one of them could get out on parole after serving 30 years.
Kimberly Danielle Milwicz, who will turn 25 years old on Saturday, will be no younger than 54 – if she is granted early release at all.
Sabin, 63, who ran T.J.’s Private Club & Cafe near Oak Trail Shores, was found on Jan. 17, 2012, inside the club after suffering a fatal gunshot wound.
Milwicz had been charged with capital murder, but a Hood County jury last week convicted her of murder. If she had been convicted of capital murder she would have automatically received life in prison with no possibility of parole. That’s the punishment the first defendant, Justin Wade Ragan, 24, got when he was convicted of capital murder on Jan. 31.
“This has been a long week for the jury,” District Attorney Rob Christian said. “The law and the instructions to the jury were complicated. I believe the jury carefully considered the evidence, and I respect their verdict.”
Milwicz worked as a bartender for Sabin before she was fired. Sabin had allowed her to stay in a spare bedroom in his home in the Rolling Hills Shores subdivision, but later told her she had to move out.
Christian and Assistant D.A. Patrick Berry had accused Milwicz of being the one who thought up the original idea of burglarizing T.J.’s and told the jury that her anger toward Sabin led to his murder, in which Ragan was convicted as the triggerman.
In less than two hours Friday morning, the jury returned the life sentence against Milwicz, plus calling for a $10,000 fine.
“I believe that Texas Ranger Kevin Wright’s interrogation of the defendant was a key part of the evidence,” Christian said. “She admitted she was the first one to hatch this plan and admitted being friends with all these bad people, and her statement corroborated what some other witnesses had to say.”
The third person indicted on the capital murder charge, Gordon Ray Lewis, 36, has his trial tentatively set for June 24.
Sabin’s two sons, Randy Sabin and Brian Sabin, attended both the Ragan trial and the Milwicz trial, as did many other relatives of Sabin including three sisters – one of whom, Teresa, is T.J. – the owner of the bar.
Brian said he wanted to thank Christian and Berry for all the hours they put in working on the case, and give credit to members of the jury for their service.
“I’m satisfied with the judgment,” Brian Sabin added.
“I think it was a just sentence,” Randy Sabin said. “The jury deliberated long and hard, and considered everything. I know this is fair.”
Mark Dewitt of Granbury, the attorney for Milwicz, also said he appreciated that the jury seemed to take its time. He said that because Milwicz was not “the primary actor” in the crime, that contributed to the fact that the jury did not convict her of the capital offense.
On the other hand, he said he felt Milwicz had “mental deficiencies” that – along with the fact she was just 23 when the murder occurred – prevented her from realizing that she “could spend the rest of her life in prison.”
Christian responded to Dewitt’s claim that Milwicz suffered from any mental deficiencies, “I don’t believe any of that was proven. If you look at the evidence, she appeared to be the sharpest one of the bunch. She put them up to doing the hard and dangerous part.”
After Walton read the sentence to Milwicz, Randy Sabin addressed her from the stand in the witness impact segment in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.
He noted that his father had provided Milwicz with a job as well as a place to stay.
“He was giving to you for a purpose. He wanted to teach you lessons like he did for Brian and I,” Randy Sabin said. “You should never bite the hand that feeds you. Ms. Milwicz, you didn’t listen to those lessons.”
He continued, stating, “I want you to know I’ve forgiven you. But my heart goes out to your family and my family for suffering and the pain they’re going through. But your actions need to be accounted for. I hope you pay all that you owe. I also hope you use that (prison) time to pay my dad back.”
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