Ricky Leon Dority, 58, was found guilty of murder Wednesday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw. Dority was convicted for the 1997 murder of Mitchell Nixon. He was sentenced to life without parole.
Nixon's body was found at 12:36 p.m. Oct. 9, 1997, on the hill known as Tower Estates east of Sallisaw, by a utility worker. Nixon's pickup was found the next day parked at a church north of Sallisaw on Highway 17.
Nixon had just returned from a trip with his aunt and uncle, residents of Bokoshe in LeFlore County, when he decided to drive his 1997 white Mazda pickup truck to Applegate Cove Road, just north of the Arkansas River in Sequoyah County, on Oct. 8, 1997. He was seen there visiting with two men, although they were not identified at the time. Nixon's badly beaten body was found the next day. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation joined in the hunt for Nixon's killers, but to no avail.
Sheriff Ron Lockhart re-opened the cold case and in March 2013 arrested Rex Richard Robbins, 40. Robbins was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery on March 7, 2013. The investigation into Robbins lead to Ricky Leon Dority, who was charged in district court on Aug. 12, 2014, with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
According to Lockhart this was the first cold case he re-opened after being elected sheriff. He added that this case was hard to investigate because several of the witnesses are now deceased.
Dority was defended by Tulsa attorney Jay Ramey, who argued in court Tuesday that Dority was in the custody of Roland police, for a drug investigation, at the time of Nixon's death. He also attempted to discredit Robbins' testimony that he and Dority were involved in Nixon's death.
The prosecution called two witnesses who claimed Dority came to their house in Muldrow on Oct. 9 1997, in blood-covered clothing. They said he burned the clothing in a neighbor's burn barrel.
A jury of eight women and three men decided the case.
"I am so glad that we reopened the investigation three years ago because the Nixon family needed closure," stated Lockhart. "We have other cold case murders that we are currently looking at. I am so proud of every employee of the Sheriff's Dept."
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com