CLARKSVILLE — As the wind whipped the trees outside
the Red River County Courthouse, Bill Bryant sat Tuesday as the
defendant in a 21-year-old murder case that involves drugs, burglary
for hire and the switching of wives.
In 1987, Johnny Darryl
Victory and Sarah Greer Raulston were shotgunned to death at his Red
River County home as his three children watched.
One of the
youngsters, Jonathan Victory was wounded by shotgun pellets aimed at
his father , who fell on his brother, Aaron Victory, after being shot.
All this and what led up to the double-slaying came out in testimony in
Judge John F. Miller Jr.’s 102 Judicial District Courtroom Tuesday.
The twisted case started when Sarah Raulston, the wife of Kenneth
Raulston of Oklahoma, began living with Victory. In turn, Victory’s
wife, Stella Walls Victory, began living with Kenneth Raulston.
The switch of wives was not equally mutual and stirred bitter arguments and threats, according to testimony.
Chemicals to make methamphetamine were stolen from a field near
Raulston’s home, and when he got into trouble financially, he allegedly
hired a young Mitchell Dickey to burglarize his home to collect the
Dickey, also accused of taking part in the slayings,
testified he did the burglary but took more than Raulston wanted him to
take and in turn made Raulston mad.
The catalyst that led up to
the slayings apparently was when Johnny Victory and his wife, who then
was living with Raulston, met and got into a heated argument that
allegedly led to Victory “beating her up.”
A few days later, late on Feb. 10, the shootings occurred.
A neighbor in the secluded area of Red River County heard the shots and the “eerie quiet” afterward.
Law enforcement officers did not get word and arrive on the scene until
the next day, and retired Texas Ranger Eddie Almond told of finding the
bodies in pools of blood.
“We hoped to solve it quickly, but that didn’t occur,” he said.
Other testimony explained it didn’t occur because no one could or would
identify the “two men” who allegedly committed the murders.
That came 21 years later when Dickey decided to “clear it all up” and tell the story of what happened.
Dickey was paroled after serving time on a burglary in Arkansas, had
worked four years afterward, had married, then decided to drive to
Texas and turn himself in.
He testified Bryant and Kenneth Raulston picked him up on the night of the murders and drove to a spot near the victims’ home.
“They waited until they saw car lights coming,” Dickey said. “I stayed
by the car, and they went toward the house. I heard shots and then they
Dickey said Bryant and Raulston were arguing after the slayings.
“I think Bryant wanted to go back and kill the kids, but Raulston wanted to leave them alone,” he said.
Two of Johnny Victory’s kids, now grown, testified they were terrified
after the shootings, and after the shooters left, they scrambled around
in Sarah Raulston’s blood, going through her purse to find the keys to
get into the house.
When they finally found the keys clutched
in her hand, they went in, got blankets and hid in the closet. No one
called police that night.
After the shootings, Johnny Victory’s wife packed up and left the Raulston home.
A law enforcement officer said Raulston chased her, trying to force her
car off the road, but instead rammed head on into an oncoming car and
died in the crash.
Because no one at the time would identify the shooters, the case grew cold until Dickey came forward in 2007.
But on the stand Tuesday, Aaron Victory pointed his finger at Bryant
and said he was the one who killed his dad. Belinda Victory, who was
nine at the time, said she was too terrified to remember.
The trial continues today, with defense attorney Dan Meehan bringing defense witnesses to the stand.
Red River County Attorney Val Varley is prosecuting the case.