GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — For 23 years, Carol Johnson has waited for one of many things.
She has waited to either find her daughter Vicki or find out what happened to her.
Or for justice.
On Tuesday, Rex Nisbett went on trial for the 1991 murder of his wife Vicki Nisbett.
The evidence and the known facts of the case have not changed over the two decades since the missing person case was opened, but the district attorney has changed.
“Rex Nisbett believes for 22 years, he has gotten away with Vicki’s murder, but you are here today to hold him accountable,” said Williamson County DA and prosecutor Jana Duty to the jury of 12 during opening statements.
Over the past 23 years, previous district attorneys did not prosecute Nisbett because Vicki’s body was never found. Without a body, the case was considered too thin and circumstantial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Duty disagreed and reopened the case file last year. Now Rex Nisbett is facing trial using the same exact evidence that has been sitting cold since 1991.
Evidence that includes blood stains found beneath the carpet inside the Anderson Mill apartment where Rex and Vicki lived, along with the testimony of witnesses, including Johnson, about the couple’s relationship.
“He told me that she was probably dead and that he was doing everything he could to find her,” testified Johnson about a phone conversation she had with Rex five months after Vicki disappeared. Johnson broke down in tears on the stand when shown a picture of her daughter.
According to witnesses on the first day of testimony, Rex and Vicki were dealing with marital problems in 1991 which forced Vicki to move out of the couple’s home while they sought a divorce. However, Vicki invited Rex to move into her new apartment during the holiday season because she was financially struggling to provide Christmas for her three sons, all younger than seven, who were missing their dad.
Friend testified Vicki continued to see other men and it led to more problems for the couple.
During opening statements, Duty told the jury a close friend of Vicki Nisbett would testify about hearing a “commotion” during a phone call on the night of the disappearance. Duty also said a neighbor will testify Rex asked for him to watch the three boys while he borrowed the neighbor’s truck only to return the truck with damage to the trunk area.
Duty told the jury the case is not complicated, but the time elapsed and faded memories of witnesses would be the most complicating aspect of the trial.
Defense attorney Keith Lauerman emphasized the point in his opening statement.
“They are going to have to prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt to prove this story.”