Murder conviction upheld again in 1991 death of man’s estranged wife

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — After back and forth opinions in the appeals process for Rex Allen Nisbett, the defendant’s murder conviction has been upheld by Texas’ Court of Criminal Appeals.

In June 2014, a jury found Nisbett, 57, guilty in the 1991 cold case murder of his wife, Vicki, despite the fact that investigators never found her body. The Williamson County man was sentenced to 42 years in prison. 

In December 2016, the Third Court of Appeals reversed his conviction and prepared to release him. 

However, in the latest opinion issued Wednesday, the filing states, “the evidence was sufficient to establish that Nisbett murdered Vicki.” 

Rex Nisbett (Texas Department of Criminal Justice Photo)

In 1991, while the couple was in the process of divorcing, Vicki moved into an apartment with their three sons. Later that year, Vicki agreed to let her husband stay at her apartment during the holiday season. Friends testified that Vicki continued to see other men and that it led to more problems for the couple.

On Dec. 14, 1991, Vicki went missing. During the initial investigation, Nisbett became a suspect.

Over the years, previous district attorneys did not prosecute him because Vicki’s body was never found. Without a body, the case was considered too thin and circumstantial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty eventually reopened the case file and Nisbett was indicted on Vicki’s murder on March 21, 2013.

Nisbett’s trial attorney, Keith Lauerman, said he is concerned about what the opinion this week means for future cases.

“The burden of proof on the state and the prosecution has possibly been lowered a little bit and I think that the decision’s allowed more jurors to use their imagination as to what happened, instead of reliable evidence that’s presented to them in court,” said Lauerman.

“We may have some unintended consequences of the exposure of innocent people being convicted because the burden has been lowered on the state to prove those different elements,” he said.

Nisbett has maintained his innocence. 

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