Vera Trial: Bar Fight Described as 'Dogpile' and 'Melee'


SAN ANGELO – Ray Vera sat quietly at the defense table in Courtroom A on the second floor of the Tom Green County courthouse wearing a suit, tie and glasses Wednesday as testimony in his murder trial for the stabbing death of a U.S. Marine in a downtown San Angelo bar got underway.  

The jury and two alternates consisted of three men and 11 women.  The 51st District Attorney John Best is prosecuting the case and called Richard Hayslip to the stand first.  Hayslip testified that he was the owner of Whiskey River Saloon.  Under questioning by Best, Hayslip said that he was not working the night of the fight and fatal stabbing.  An employee called him and Hayslip went to the bar and help officers in their investigation by providing surveillance video from his equipment. He said he had 16 cameras functioning at the bar that night; 14 inside and two outside on the parking lot at 125 E. Concho Ave.

Hayslip said he had four bartenders, 4 wait staff, 2 bar backs, a DJ, and one security guard on duty.  Testimony showed the security guard worked for a company Hayslip contracted with for security.  

A fight began on the dance floor in the bar.  The fight was broken up by the security guard and both parties left.  The fight began again in the parking lot and ended with five people stabbed; one fatally. 

Best finished his questions for Hayslip and passed the witness. Defense Attorney Jason Sosa asked Hayslip if one security guard was enough for that many people in the bar.  Hayslip said, "You can't control the actions of others," during cross examination.  

San Angelo Police Department Detective Jason Chegwidden to the stand next.  Chegwidden was the Criminal Investigation Division investigator on call the night of Oct. 2, 2022 when the fatal stabbing occurred during a bar fight at Whiskey River Saloon that spilled over into the parking lot. 

The fight started after words were exchanged between a group of active duty military members from Goodfellow Air Force Base and a group of local men and women, some of whom, the officer alleged, were members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang.  Testimony indicated the locals were at the bar celebrating a birthday. 

Chegwidden testified that he retrieved video surveillance video from the bar and from cell phones.  The videos showed movements of Vera and the victims both inside and outside the bar.  Chegwidden said he also investigated two residences, one on Hassell St. and one on Forest Park.  Evidence was recovered at both residences. 

The video showed the two groups of men fighting on the dance floor.  The fight turned into a dogpile with the military members on top of Julian Suarez, who was part of the initial conversation.  The video shows Suarez holding a glass beer mug inside the bar and again outside and striking Cole Huntsburger  with the mug.  

Chegwidden also had the video interview of Vera. Chegwidden eventually told Vera that Bryce Rudisell had died at the hospital from his stab wounds and that video showed Vera as the person who stabbed him.  Vera said during the video, "I don't remember nothing."  He said he had a lot to drink that night.  Chegwidden then arrested Vera for murder. 

It all, five people were stabbed during the fight.  

Best passed the witness and Sosa had some questions for the detective. 

The video inside the bar showed that Vera didn't throw the first punch, but got involved really quickly.  Detective Chegwidden said it was a tough call to say who started the fight. 

Testimony will continue in the jury trial Thursday morning. 

Here is the original story a published day after the murder occurred

Subscribe to the LIVE! Daily

The LIVE! Daily is the "newspaper to your email" for San Angelo. Each content-packed edition has weather, the popular Top of the Email opinion and rumor mill column, news around the state of Texas, news around west Texas, the latest news stories from San Angelo LIVE!, events, and the most recent obituaries. The bottom of the email contains the most recent rants and comments. The LIVE! daily is emailed 5 days per week. On Sundays, subscribers receive the West Texas Real Estate LIVE! email.


Most Recent Videos

Post a comment to this article here:

X Close