Murder trial begins


The State of Nebraska versus Vencil Ash trial with jury held its first full day of court on Tuesday.

Vencil Ash is charged with the 2003 murder of Ryan Guitron. He was previously found guilty of the murder in July 2012. However, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned the ruling in October 2013, stating that the defense did not have proper time to prepare for Ash’s wife, Kelly Meehan-Ash, to take the stand. The Supreme Court stated that Ash’s requests to postpone the trial in order to prepare a defense against the testimony should have been granted.

On Tuesday, Ash, the defendant, was present in civilian clothing and out of hand and feet shackles, although security at the courthouse was tight. The family of Ryan Guitron was also present at the trial.

The prosecution first called Antonio Guitron Jr., the victim’s father, to the stand. Antonio Guitron Jr. was asked several questions concerning Ryan Guitron’s behavior back in 2003, prior to when he first went missing. Antonio Guitron Jr. described Ryan as being meticulous, taking pride in his belongings, as well as being a devout Oakland Raiders fan. The last time Antonio Guitron saw his son, Ryan, was when he went to drop off a birthday card and money. Ryan was working on his 1999 Mercury Topaz, the car given to him by his parents, and according to Antonio Guitron, seemed worried and anxious.

Antonio Guitron was asked about a medallion that his son carried. A small token with the Prayer of Jabez inscribed upon it was a gift from his parents. Antonio Guitron confirmed that it was a gift he had given to each of his children.

It was brought out that Ryan Guitron had a problem with drug use, a fact that his father was unaware of, and according to his testimony still does not acknowledge.

A great deal of time was spent speaking about the Topaz that Ryan owned. The title was in his parents’ names until September 2003, when Ryan Guitron’s girlfriend, Lydia Ross, gave him money to put the insurance in his name. The stipulation set by Ryan’s family allowed him to have the title signed over to him once he had the money to pay the insurance premium in his name.

Lydia Ross was then called to the witness stand. Ross was Ryan Guitron’s girlfriend at the time of his disappearance, and is the one who filed the missing person’s report.

Ross was aware of Ryan’s cocaine and methamphetamine problems. Ross, being Ryan’s girlfriend of two years, noticed a difference in Ryan the more frequent his drug use became. Ross stated that Ryan was “unreliable” and “antsy” when using drugs.

Ross also stated that she did indeed give Ryan $500 so that he could get the title to the Topaz, so long as she could also be on the title.

Ross then identified several personal effects of Ryan’s that were presented to by the prosecution - a ring, watch, Oakland Raiders key fob, and an Oakland Raiders jacket.

Ash was said to have moved in with Ryan a few months prior to Ryan’s disappearance. This was confirmed by Ross.

Investigator Kevin Maul was then brought to the stand. Maul was the investigator assigned to Ryan Guitron’s missing persons case. During the investigation, Maul found a few items of Ryan’s that had been pawned by Vencil Ash at various pawn shops in the state. These items included an Oakland Raiders jacket as well as a television set once owned by Lydia Ross.

Jesus Campos, who worked on oil rigs, was brought to the stand to testify that he made a deal with Vencil Ash sometime in October 2003 to swap vehicles. Campos traded a maroon Cadillac Escalade for the Mercury Topaz that Ash was driving. The car once belonged to Ryan Guitron. Campos was unaware that the car once belong to Ryan Guitron, as the two had never met. Also in the deal were two pounds of methamphetamine. Ash told Campos that he would be able to cook up two pounds of meth, a street value of $30,000 at the time. Campos was a drug dealer at the time and planned to make even more selling the meth broken up, not as a unit.

The Topaz was later seized from the possession of Campos’ sister. He had given the vehicle to her.

Ash was pulled over in the maroon Escalade and taken into custody, since there was a warrant out for his arrest. That next day the Escalade was seized and items were found in it that once belonged to Ryan Guitron.

The missing persons case involving Ryan Guitron hit a wall until April 8, 2010, when a report that human remains were in Bushnell was made to the Nebraska State Patrol.

The trial continued Wednesday in Kimball. Look for more coverage of the trial in next week’s edition of The Western Nebraska Observer.


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