Bellmead man accused of killing in-laws claimed he suffered memory blackout after father-in-law threatened him
Defendant claimed he was afraid of wife’s father, Bellmead police never investigated threats
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Johnny Alvin Wilson told Texas Rangers that he had a memory blackout after his father-in-law threatened him and he initially said he didn’t remember shooting him or his mother-in-law in May 2020.
Prosecutors Staci Johnson and Donald McCarthy played a two-hour video on Tuesday of Wilson’s interview with Texas Ranger Sgt. Travis Dendy and Texas Ranger Major James Thomas after Wilson’s arrest in the shooting deaths of his wife’s parents, Rachel Strickland, 40, and Christopher Wilson, 42.
Wilson, 39, is on trial for capital murder in Waco’s 54th State District Court in the incident at his home on Florida Street in Bellmead during a family cookout that Wilson said was meant to bring the family closer together after the birth of his son.
At the end of the video, Wilson, who was talkative and cooperative with the Rangers, finally confessed to shooting the pair, showed a hint of remorse and asked for his wife’s forgiveness.
Wilson, who has remained jailed since his arrest, dabbed at tears in the courtroom while the video was playing.
Wilson told the Rangers that Christopher Wilson and his wife’s uncle had been threatening him for several years and that he was scared of them. He said he reported the threats to the Bellmead Police Department, to the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office and to the Rangers, but nothing was ever done.
He said in the video that he hoped that a cookout would serve as a goodwill gesture to Strickland and Christopher Wilson that he and his wife, Ashley, wanted the recently divorced couple in their lives, especially since the birth of their 3-month-old grandson.
Ashley Wilson’s brother and sister, Landon Wilson, 16, and Haley Wilson, 18, both testified Monday that their parents were unhappy that Johnny Wilson and Ashely Wilson were in a relationship and raising a son together because they are second cousins. Both teens testified that Wilson shot and killed their parents before they scrambled to safety at neighbors’ houses.
Wilson said he and Christopher Wilson were sharing a beer together at the cookout while others were swimming and visiting. Wilson said he was carrying a revolver in his back waistband when Christopher Wilson suddenly threatened to hurt him.
“It’s like his whole demeanor flipped towards me,” Wilson told the Rangers on the video. “It was like daylight and dark, just flipped on me.”
As the Rangers pressed him for details, Wilson insisted that he could not remember anything from the time his father-in-law threatened him to the point where he walked to the driveway with the gun in his hand and was met by a Bellmead police sergeant, who took him into custody.
He reiterated to the Rangers about his fear of his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s brother.
“I reported the threats to McLennan County, Bellmead and the Rangers,” he said. “Maybe if they had done their damn jobs and stepped up, it never would have gotten to this point. But I’m the one who is going to be held accountable, for obvious reasons.”
After the video ended, defense attorney John Donahue, who is representing Wilson with Austin attorney Jon Evans, asked Dendy if he ever checked Wilson’s story about reporting the threats from his wife’s family to various law enforcement agencies.
Dendy said he was told there were not such reports in Bellmead and the sheriff’s office showed a call from Wilson about domestic issues between the families.
However, Donahue produced a Bellmead police report given to the defense in discovery that showed Johnny Wilson reported his father-in-law and his wife’s uncle threatened him in August 2019.
Wilson told the Rangers that he didn’t hate his in-laws, adding that if he killed them, it had to be out of fear. He said he had no reason to kill Strickland because she was not involved in the conversation, although he said he knew that she carried a pistol since she and Christopher Wilson split up.
Officers recovered Strickland’s Glock 9 mm pistol near a baby stroller in the back yard after she was killed, but Wilson said she did not brandish it that night.
Later, after he admitted shooting Christopher Wilson, Wilson told the Rangers that Strickland rushed over to see about her ex-husband and said, “I’ll kill you for this.”
Before the interview started and again at the end after his confession, Wilson complained to the Rangers about how Bellmead police treated him. Wilson’s right side is disabled and he complained that officers forced his disabled arm behind his back while cuffing him, causing him “to suffer.”
Prosecution testimony resumes Wednesday morning.
The state is not seeking the death penalty against Wilson. If he is convicted of capital murder, he will be sentenced to an automatic life prison term with no parole.
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