Judge Warns of 'Wall of Law Enforcement' Amid Tensions in Whiskey River Murder Trial


SAN ANGELO – District Judge Carmen Dusek warned supporters on both sides in the Whiskery River murder trial that she would create a 'wall of law enforcement' if tensions between the two sides continue outside the courthouse.  

Just before noon on Thursday, Dusek was instructing the jury about conduct outside the courtroom when she make the declaration.  Allegedly, a few supporters of Ray Vera were seen by courthouse security circling the block after the court proceedings had ended for the day while supporters from both sides were trickling out of the courthouse going home for the day.  

At one point during testimony Thursday, the bailiff escorted what appeared to be a supporter of Vera, who was setting behind the defense team out of the courtroom for an unknown reason.  Then Judge Dusek made the announcement a short while later.  

Apparently there is still tension between Vera and his supporters and the military members supporting Bryce Rudisell's family along with the other three who were injured in the fatal melee on October 2023.  

Vera is being tried for murder in the October 2022 stabbing death of U.S. Marine Bryce Rudisell in the parking lot of the Whiskey River Saloon in downtown San Angelo following a brawl that began on the dance floor.  

As we reported the day after the murder, a fight between a group of bikers and a group of active duty military members from Goodfellow Air Force base began on the dance floor but was quickly ended by bouncers at the bar.  

Both groups allegedly began fighting again outside in the parking lot where several people were stabbed including Bryce Rudisell, who later died in the hospital of a stab wound to the chest. 

Testimony Thursday began with Kenneth Kimble, a Crime Scene Investigator, continuing his testimony from Wednesday.  During 51st District Attorney John Best's prosecution of the case, he presented photos and then the actual knife allegedly used in the stabbing.  

The knife was described as a silver switchblade with a patriotic scene on the side depicting the Statue of Liberty and an America Flag.  

Much of the testimony Thursday was about the chain of evidence from the crime scene and a residence on Hassell St. which was the residence of Raymond Scott at the time, who was involved in the fight and a residence on Forest Park which was the home of Ray Vera at the time.  

Kimble detailed the evidence found at the three locations as Best showed photos the jury.  

At one point, Best showed the switchblade knife to the jury.  It was in a clear round plastic cylinder to keep it from being contaminated.  

Kimble was then cross examined and excused from the witness stand.  

Best then called Cortney Steen to the stand.  Steen was a Crime Scene Technician for the San Angelo Police Department and collected evidence from the scenes.  Steen testified she went to the hospital the night of the stabbing at the direction of Detective Chegwidden.  Steen took photos of the stabbing victims in the emergency room while they were being treated.  She also took photos of Rudisell's body after he passed away and prepped it for autopsy. 

Best showed the jury the photos of injuries to victims Casey Devon, Andrew Caldwell and Col Hunsberger.  

He declined to show photos taken of Rudisell's injuries to the jury. 

Best then passed the witness to the Defense for cross examination.  Defense attorney Tommy Jackson briefly questioned Steen about measurements of the various knives found during the investigation and why she didn't take photos of Vera and his friends who were involved in the fight.  Steen said she was not instructed to do so by Chegwidden.  

While Jackson was questioning Steen's credibility as an expert witness, the bailiff sternly but quietly removed a young man who was setting behind Vera, presumably a support of his, from the courtroom for an unknown reason.  

Steen was then released after ending her testimony. 

Best then called Ashley Riley, M.S., M.B. to the stand.  Riley is a Forensic Scientist of Biology for the Lubbock DPS Crime Lab.  Riley testified that she received two packages of evidence to process from the San Angelo Police Department.  That evidence included the broken beer mug from the parking lot and clothing from the residences.  

Riley testified that the switchblade knife tested positive for blood and the swabs from the victims and the other participants in the fight also tested positive for the presence of DNA.  

Testimony continued through the afternoon Thursday.  

Jurors were instructed to be back in the courthouse to continue hearing testimony Friday morning by 9 a.m. and Judge Dusek said they would attempt to finish the day's court proceedings by 5 p.m.  The trial is expected to continue well into next week.  

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