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Richard Lyon Trial: 1991-92

Handwriting Expert Cinches Guilty Verdict

In a dramatic moment, Lyon himself took the stand. He passionately denied killing his wife, declaring himself a moral, intelligent man who enjoyed life and would not throw everything away by committing murder. Jurors interviewed after the trial said that Lyon had convinced them of his innocence.

But the trial took a turn when a surprise witness took the stand with startling information.

Earlier, the defense had produced a receipt that Lyon said he found in his wife's belongings. The receipt from a Dallas chemical company purported to show that Nancy had signed for a delivery of arsenic trioxide and other chemicals. A defense handwriting expert had testified that the signature was Nancy's.

Near the trial's end, the prosecution brought in its own handwriting expert. The expert testified that Richard himself had penned his wife's signature on the documents, which the Dallas chemical company owner had already described as bogus on the stand. The expert also testified that Richard had forged his wife's name on several other evidential papers.

The jury took three hours to find Lyon guilty of his wife's murder. Judge John C. Creuzot gave him the maximum sentence noting that in his view, Lyon tried "various and sundry chemicals to kill Nancy. The first two didn't work, and you finally finished her off with arsenic, a tried-and-true method of producing death." Then for months, Creuzot added, Lyon coldly watched his wife of nine years die. Lyon had requested that the judge sentence him, not the jury.

In March 1992, Judge Creuzot denied Lyon's bid for a retrial.

B. J. Welborn

Suggestions for Further Reading

City Confidential. Dallas: Arsenic and Old Money. A&E Home Video.

Slover, Pete. "Lyon Gets Life Term in Slaying." The Dallas Morning Ners (January 18, 1992): 33A.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Richard Lyon Trial: 1991-92 - Doctor's Suspicions Prompt Investigation, Lawyer Promises Perry Mason Defense, A Marriage On The Rocks