Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Bowling Green man drops effort to withdraw guilty plea




BOWLING GREEN - A local man who pleaded guilty to hiring a hit man to kill his estranged wife yesterday abandoned his quest to withdraw that guilty plea.

Michael Coyer, 39, made no statements at the brief court hearing but told Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex that he understood what he was doing. Coyer is to be sentenced Jan. 18 on one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

It was unclear why he withdrew the motion, and, at the request of Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson, Judge Pollex ordered attorneys not to speak to reporters about the case until Coyer has been sentenced.

Mr. Dobson said he was making the request based on newspaper articles that had been written about the case. Peter Halleck, attorney for Coyer, did not object.

Mr. Halleck said afterward he could not comment on why his client dropped the motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

"I can't, but I will at sentencing," Mr. Halleck said.

Coyer had stated in an affidavit filed with the motion that he was "under a great deal of emotional stress and trauma and did not understand the consequences of his plea nor did he understand the agreement between his lawyers and the prosecuting attorney."

In an earlier interview, Mr. Halleck contended Coyer had been set up by a friend who was trying to get himself out of trouble. That "friend" worked with Bowling Green police to arrange a meeting between Coyer and an undercover police officer posing as a hit man.

At a downtown Bowling Green bar Feb. 27, police said Coyer offered Officer Michael Bengela $500 to kill his estranged wife, Kimberley Howell. Police say he gave Mr. Bengela $80 as a down payment.

Just a few days earlier, Coyer had filed for divorce from Ms. Howell. The couple had married Nov. 17, 2003, and separated Jan. 4, 2004, according to court records. The divorce was finalized July 22, and Ms. Howell has since changed her name and moved out of the area.

Coyer's arrest surprised many who knew him. He had a side business capping and servicing oil wells in the area and had been an active volunteer at the Wood County Historical Center. A board member for six years and president of the historical society for two years, Coyer set up a working oil derrick on the museum grounds.

"That whole oil history thing was where his heart was, and he really put himself into it," said Patricia Smith, former historical center director. "This whole thing has been a real shock to me."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

or 419-353-5972.

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