Aug. 28--FORT WORTH -- Until now, the story of an Arlington couple murdered in 2012 has been tinged with salacious details about witchcraft and voodoo.
But on Tuesday, none of that mysticism was on display. Instead, in a Fort Worth courtroom, jurors heard brutal details about how Long Nguyen, 72, and his wife Huong Ly, 63, met their deaths.
Willie Guillory, now 24, testified that he was a Houston-area teenager in 2012 when he traveled to Arlington with his uncle Bobby Guillory, 56 -- and bludgeoned Nguyen and Ly with a baseball bat he had made in high school wood shop class.
The younger Guillory, who faces a capital murder charge in the case but has agreed to cooperate with authorities for a reduced charge, was a key witness in the trial of Dephne Wright, 47, who also lives in Houston and is accused of paying the uncle-nephew team to kill the Arlington couple to satisfy a debt.
Wright has been described in previous news reports about the case as a self-proclaimed witch, but on Tuesday her lawyer Wes Ball said that characterization comes from a misunderstanding about her occupation as a spiritual adviser who caters to the Asian community in Texas.
Wright had been hired by Nguyen and Ly, who were both of Vietnamese descent, to cast spells and help the family business, prosecutors have previously said. Wright is now accused of hiring the uncle and nephew to kill the couple and collect their life insurance.
Guillory, speaking to a Tarrant County jury of six men and six women, described how he and his uncle drove to Arlington at night, used a key to enter the couple's home, then removed the light bulbs from their fixtures and waited to attack them in the dark.
They also placed marijuana, a blue bandanna and beer in the house to throw off police and make it look like gangsters had killed the couple and thrown a party.
But that plan backfired because Willie Guillory testified that he smoked some of the marijuana in Nguyen and Ly's house under his uncle's direction -- and, three years later, when he was imprisoned on unrelated theft charges, a sample of his DNA was routinely taken as part of his incarceration and his DNA was matched up with a partly-burned joint found at the crime scene.
Nguyen and Ly lived in a modest but well-kept neighborhood in the 3600 block of Waverly Drive, just north of The Parks Mall.
About two hours after the uncle and nephew had broken into the house, Nguyen and Ly returned to the home.
As Nguyen entered the home, Willie Guillory jumped from the darkened kitchen and attacked him.
"I ran out with the baseball bat and hit him upside the head," the nephew testified in District Judge Everett Young's 297th District Court.
"He screamed," Willie Guillory said, adding that he hit Nguyen on the head multiple times until the man was unconscious.
When Ly stepped into the home, Willie Guillory quickly attacked her as well.
"She didn't scream," he said of Ly, who like her husband was of Vietnamese descent. "She said something in her language."
"There was a chain on the lady's neck. I took it," he testified. "I'm on top of her. It was dark. She tried to kick me (so) I hit her in the head again."
Willie Guillory, who has been offered a chance to plead guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated robbery with a potential sentence of up to 20 years, said he was adopted by his uncle as a young boy and endured years of physical and sexual abuse. He was a special education student at Cypress Springs High School near Houston.
Bobby Guillory was convicted of the murder-for-hire plot last year by a Tarrant County jury, and sentenced to life in prison.
Willie Guillory said that after he beat the man and woman, he moved them to a bedroom, where Bobby Guillory covered their mouths and noses with duct tape and stuck them in a closet.
The uncle-nephew duo then left the house with three purses, Ly's gold necklace chain, $100 cash and a wristwatch they thought was a Rolex but turned out to be a fake. They also took social security cards, driver's licenses and other documents that Wright had asked for to claim their life insurance funds, Willie Guillory testified.
Ball, Wright's defense attorney, downplayed Willie Guillory's testimony, saying he often just heard his uncle's part of the conversation during phone calls with Wright.
Bobby Guillory, who was married, and Wright's roommate and friend Vy Nguyen were having an affair that had lasted at least a year before the killings, Willie Guillory said. As a result, the nephew-uncle duo were often at Wright's house, he testified.
Ball also questioned whether Willie Guillory, who has already served more than three years behind bars after being linked to the murders, could essentially get released for "time served" if he cooperates with prosecutors and gets a sentence of less than 20 years.
"It feels better getting time served, doesn't it?" Ball asked the nephew on the stand.
But the nephew responded: "I feel a lot better getting it off my chest. It feels a lot better because I'm tired of holding it in."
The case against Wright is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday, when a relative is scheduled to testify about receiving some of the life insurance benefits from Nguyen and Ly.
Tarrant County prosecutor David Alex has previously said that beneficiaries inherited more than $1 million from the couple's insurance policies.
Willie Guillory testified that his uncle often wore military uniforms to get discounts at restaurants and other retail shops, even though he had never served in the armed forces. Willie Guillory said he had no relationship with his father, who also is imprisoned, or his mother, who used drugs, but that Bobby Guillory's wife as well as Wright treated him like a son.
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