Danielle Nathaniel Simpson, 30, was executed by lethal injection on 18 November 2009 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction, robbery, and murder of an 84-year-old woman.
In January 2000, Simpson, then 20, and his 16-year-old wife, Jennifer, were living with Simpson's aunts in Anderson County. Geraldine Davidson, an elderly widow, lived a few blocks away. Simpson had burglarized Davidson's home on at least two previous occasions.
On 26 January, Simpson, his wife, and his 13-year-old cousin, Edward McCoy, decided to burglarize Davidson's home again. They walked to her house and knocked on the door. Finding no one home, Simpson went into her garage, got a hammer and pick, and broke a window. Jennifer then climbed through the window and opened the door. About fifteen minutes later, as the thieves were gathering jewelry to steal, Davidson returned home. According to McCoy's testimony, when Davidson entered the kitchen, Simpson approached her from behind and held a knife to her neck. He asked her for money, which she retrieved from her purse. Simpson then directed McCoy and Jennifer to restrain the victim while he left to get a pillow case and duct tape. When Simpson returned, he bound her hands and taped her mouth and told Jennifer to tape her legs. Simpson then put the pillow case over Davidson's head, threw her over his shoulder, carried her outside, and placed her in the trunk of her car.
The three assailants then climbed in the victim's car and drove to a couple of different locations to buy drugs. After purchasing marijuana in Palestine and making an unsuccessful attempt to buy some crack cocaine, they drove about ten miles to Grapeland to visit Simpson's aunt and her daughter, Shay. According to McCoy's testimony, Simpson opened the trunk and showed the victim to Shay. When Davidson asked for her medicine, Simpson told her, "Shut up" and slammed the lid closed. For the rest of the afternoon, the three drove around in the victim's car, congregating with various friends in Palestine, with Simpson occasionally opening the trunk to show off the victim. Jennifer used Davidson's cell phone throughout the day.
Authorities said that eight to ten people at separate locations in Palestine and Grapeland were shown the captive Davidson prior to her death. None of them notified the police.
Eventually, the three assailants were joined by Simpson's 15-year-old brother, Lionel Simpson, who suggested that they kill the victim. Danielle Simpson drove to a dead end, and all four got out of the car. Danielle removed the victim from the trunk and threw her on the ground. He and Lionel re-taped her arms and legs more tightly, beat her, and returned her to the trunk. The four then drove to a fast food restaurant and had hamburgers and french fries. Next, they drove to the Neches River. Danielle backed the car up to the river and opened the trunk. Lionel removed Davidson and threw her onto the ground. According to McCoy's testimony, Danielle then got a running start and kicked the victim in the face. Lionel then tied one end of a rope around her legs, while Danielle tied the other end around a cinder block, then threw the block into the water. Next, Lionel took Davidson's hands and Danielle took her legs, and they swung the victim and threw her into the river.
The next day, a passing motorist spotted a body floating in the river and notified authorities.
Testimony at Simpson's trial showed that Davidson was alive when she was thrown into the frigid Neches River and allowed to drown.
In Simpson's defense, his attorneys presented a letter he wrote to a cousin, in which he stated that he and his brother remained in the car while Jennifer and McCoy tied the block to the victim and threw her in the river. In the letter, Simpson stated he "was just the watch out person and driver of the car."
In 1998, Simpson was arrested and charged with sexual indecency with a child. He was given deferred adjudication with 10 years' probation and was assigned 600 hours of community service. The state also presented testimony of numerous instances where Simpson had assaulted women, including punching his wife in the face, fighting with his sister and smashing her car windows over an argument that he had fondled her 9-year-old daughter, and shooting at a former girlfriend with a sawed-off shotgun.
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