Wilson takes the stand in day six of trial

Light has been a recurring theme for the prosecution in the State of Texas versus David Wilson.

How much light was provided outside as officers responded to alarm call? How much light did the defendant have inside his house as he traversed the living room? How did the beam of Officer Nathan Heidelberg’s flashlight affect Wilson’s vision and the officers’ ability to see inside?

Meanwhile, on the sixth day of the trial, the defense focused on the absolute absence of light.  First thing, the jury saw 25 minutes of complicated animations of a nearly pitch-black house (interior and exterior) in a semi-darkened courtroom. 

There were seven components of the animation, all based upon ESI’s Manuel Meza-Arroyo’s 10-12 hours at the Wilson home on a similar night with light meters, specialized cameras, laser scans and motion capture suits worn by his team to reproduce the actions of Amy and David Wilson, according to the interior cameras. Dan Kruger of ESI explained that there was a virtual camera in his virtual animation software that exactly matched the home’s security cameras.

The first animation video portrayed the couple walking back and forth from the children’s hallway to their bedroom. The second was a composite of the three entrances to the home that were hooked up to the “door open” chime and the five entries to the yard. A top-down view of the home, which showed the number of walls between entry hall and closet as well as the threshold of the front door, was the focus of the third animation. The fourth was a view of the outside of the home, and the fifth ended with the light shining in the defendant’s eyes just before he pulled the trigger. The sixth animation involved the officers as they stood on the front porch, based upon the home’s exterior security camera, and the final animation gave a close-up view of Wilson’s sight lines (and lack thereof) from the moment he arose.

The prosecution asked detailed questions about the data Meza collected to transmit to the animators. One point involved the tiny lights in the backyard spiraling down three palm trees.  Meza told the jury that light was far enough out in the yard to prevent it from illuminating the rooms inside. He further stated that his light meter would not record anything from the master bedroom looking toward the children’s hallway — it was that dark. He also stood by the claim that Heidelberg’s LED flashlight (of 800-1,200 lumens) first shone on the dining table before sweeping right and pointing to Wilson’s firing position.

District Attorney Laura Nodolf called the alarm expert, Chris Russell, as a rebuttal witness to confirm that someone had tried to access the cameras after the shot was fired. When asked why the defendant or Amy Wilson didn’t grab a phone on the bedside table and check cameras first, he responded that if he was awakened in the middle of the night, he wouldn’t reach for his phone first but would greet whoever with a gun. He has a home security system himself but says there’s a delay on phones, a small screen and choppy images.

The defense next called the defendant’s wife to describe their life prior to March 5, 2019. She explained that she obtained a nursing degree, they married, and they were a team in the early days of David Wilson’s career. They started with the Fuller lease (six stripper wells producing 1 barrel per day) and one employee, so on his days off, each took a shift checking the wells.

David Wilson’s day job was selling cell phones. Over time they acquired other properties and were “very blessed.” He formed Unitex Oil & Gas LLC, and first partnered with the late Ted Collins of Midland. Currently he employees 80, overseeing 1,500 wells, is funded by The Ridgemont Equity Partners in North Carolina and hired his father as field supervisor.

Defense Attorney Daniel Hurley walked her through problems with their alarm system, cell phones and even WiFi attributed to the home’s metal roof. Then, he asked her to describe the events of March 5, 2019, from her standpoint. She could not comprehend that a door was unlocked because their habit was to lock each one after coming through. Furthermore, they rarely used the front door, so it was almost always locked. She said she had never before felt so panicked or scared because she knew the door open message wouldn’t chime unless someone opened it.

After her recounting of the events, which had been seen by the jury last week, the former home’s owner, Mitch Clark, appeared. The former owner of Tomcat, a structural truss company with top entertainers as customers, explained that he wanted a dark and soundproof home so he made several modifications to interior and exterior walls (with foam and Tyvek) and channels on the sides of windows to accommodate that. He also installed heavy, 9-foot, stainless steel front doors with opaque glass inserts. He acknowledged that Eagle Cove cul-de-sac is very dark at night with just one streetlight and his house numbers backlit on a retaining wall.

The day’s final witness was the defendant, David Wilson. A deacon at First Baptist Church, where the Heidelberg family also worships, he told those in attendance of his early goal to become an oilman, his interest in FFA and 4-H (where he met Amy), and his desire to teach his daughters the value of hard work by raising pigs in a barn they built on their 2-acre property on Eagle Cove.

Hurley and Prosecutor Andrew Van Der Hoeven repeatedly asked him why he got his gun and fired the shot, and he consistently responded that he was scared to death when he perceived a threat and that someone had opened the front door. He got the gun to stop people from entering his home and fired immediately at the flashlight. When asked how he would have acted, knowing what he knows now, he said, “I would have done anything to stop it; I didn’t want anyone to die.”