Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard and Nancy Lyon

The Verdict

Dan Guthrie had inferred throughout the trial that Nancy Lyon probably had committed suicide. He was quite blunt in the end, during closing statements.

He said she probably ate the arsenic to make herself sick and attract sympathy from Richard. She likely planned to threaten Richard by exposing him as a poisoner should he try to leave her.

Sims stuck up for Nancy during her statement, saying, "She has been drug through the courtroom like she's some kind of two-headed monster."

She said Lyon was a classic conniver looking to get out of the marriage without suffering financial harm.

Judge John Creuzot
Judge John Creuzot

"This isn't a man who believes in our criminal justice system," Sims said. "It's a man who believes he's smarter than all the rest of us... Richard Lyon expected to get away with it, and he almost did.''

After a three-week trial, the case was passed to the jury for judgment on Dec. 19, 1991. The panel took an hour and 40 minutes, including lunch, to reach a decision.

The seven men and five women somberly filed back into the courtroom, and foreman Byron Black declared Lyon guilty of murder.

Richard Lyon, according to author A.W. Gray, "was the only person in the courtroom who seemed surprised."

The Dallas Morning News reported that Lyon was "floored" by the verdict.

His attorney, Dan Guthrie, quoted the defendant as saying, "I can't believe this has happened. I'm innocent."

At sentencing four weeks later, Lyon once again declared his innocence and begged for leniency.

He didn't get it. Judge John Creuzot handed down a life sentence. (Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.)

Lyon, now nearing 50, has spent more than 14 years in prison. He continues to assert his innocence, although over the years he has failed in various appeals and lawsuits, including a wrongful death suit against the hospital where Nancy died.

Lyon has said that Charles Crouch, the chemical company owner, was lying about both the authenticity of the receipt and the hair color of the woman who picked up the document.

The couple's daughters were raised by the Dillard family. Now college-age, the girls were beneficiaries of Nancy Lyon's $500,000 life insurance policy.

 

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