Daniel Clate Acker, 46, was executed by lethal injection on 27 September 2018 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction and murder of his girlfriend.
On Saturday evening, 11 March 2000, Acker, then 28, and Marquette "Markie" George, 32, were at the Bustin' Loose nightclub outside of Sulphur Springs in northeast Texas with some friends and relatives. According to witnesses, Acker and George had an argument. Afterwards, Acker was heard saying, "I'm going to kill that bitch." He also told a witness to tell George that Acker was going to kill her. Acker was subsequently thrown out of the nightclub because of his behavior. Dorcus Vititow, Acker's older sister, testified that Acker returned several times, inquiring about George's whereabouts. She also took a pocket knife away from Acker. Vititow and Acker left the premises together when the club closed at 1:00 a.m.
According to Vititow, Acker later asked for the knife to be returned. Vititow claimed she did not have it. Acker then held up an axe and said, "I don't need that knife. If I find her with another man, they will pay." He spent the morning looking for George. Later, he told Vititow he believed that George had spent the night with another man and said no one was going to make a fool out of him.
At around 9:15 a.m., Acker appeared at George's parents' house and asked where George was. Her mother, Lila Seawright, said she had not seen her. Acker told her that if she stayed by herself that night, everything was fine, but "if I find out she was with anybody, I'm going to kill 'em." Shocked, Seawright said, "there's not anybody worth killing and going to the pen for." Acker, who had been released from prison about six months earlier, said, "Pen life ain't nothing. Ain't nothing to it."
Thomas Smiddy testified that George was one of his neighbors in the mobile home park where he lived. Between 10:45 and 11:00 a.m., a man other than Acker dropped George off at her home. Acker came outside, then the two went inside. Twenty to thirty minutes later, George ran over to Smiddy's home. She hid behind Smiddy's wife, Alicia, and yelled for them to call the sheriff. Acker came over, picked up George, and carried her over his shoulder to his pickup truck. He then forced George into the truck, a scene Smiddy described as "like putting a cat in a bathtub." Smiddy heard a noise that sounded like a loud strike or slap. Acker then drove away, swerving into and out of a ditch. Smiddy called the sheriff.
Alicia Smiddy presented testimony similar to her husband's.
Brodie Young testified that between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m., he was driving on a county road past Sedill Ferrell's dairy and noticed a truck on the side of the road. He saw a man sitting in the driver's seat, and thought he looked "peculiar." As he passed the truck, he looked in his side mirror and saw the driver of the truck get out, rush around the front to the passenger's side, and open the door. He then pulled a woman by her arms out the truck and placed her on the roadside. He then got back in the truck and drove away. Young went to the sheriff's office to report the incident. Sedill Ferrell then found George's body lying on the ground. He went to a phone and called the authorities.
Acker flagged down a patrol car as it passed by his mother's house and turned himself in.
An autopsy determined, from hemorrhage injuries on the victim's neck and the capillaries lining her eyes, that she had been strangled. There were also many blunt force injuries: her head was crushed, bones of her face were broken, the base of her skull was shattered, and there were rib fractures and a clavicle fracture. The body also suffered from lacerations and gaping wounds to the heart, lung, liver, and lower right leg. There were also abrasions on the victim's cheek and chin. The medical examiner, Dr. Gonsoulin, determined that the small amount of hemorrhaging and blood from the lacerations and abrasions showed that they were inflicted postmortem or perimortem. These findings indicated that George was most likely strangled and was probably dead or near death prior to being dumped or ejected from a vehicle. Dr. Gonsoulin also said she could not be certain that strangulation was the cause of death and that the blunt force injuries the victim suffered were sufficient kill her.
Acker testified at his trial. He said that he was in the mobile home when Robert McKee, a bouncer at Bustin' Loose, brought George home. He went outside to speak to McKee, and George went inside. Acker said McKee told him he had taken George to her father's home to spend the night. He did not believe him, because he had gone there looking for her. He then went inside and confronted George. She admitted spending the night with McKee. When he asked whether she slept with him, she asked what difference it would make. Acker testified that he then pushed George down on the couch and shook her, with his hands on her shoulders and his thumbs more or less touching. He denied strangling George or squeezing or gripping her neck.
Acker testified that he asked George where McKee lived, and she said she would show him. Instead, she darted out of the trailer. He admitted that he grabbed her and carried her to his truck, but said that she crawled in when he opened the door. He denied that he hit her and said he did not hear a loud noise. When he started the truck and began to leave the mobile home park, she opened the door and attempted to jump out, but he caught her by her jacket and hair and pulled her back. In the process, his knee hit the steering wheel, and the truck went into the ditch. Later, she attempted to jump out a second time, and he again prevented her. On her third attempt to jump out, he tried to grab her, but did not manage to get a hold of her. He then hollered out her name and stomped his left foot on the brake. As soon as the pickup came to a stop, he put it in reverse and "I backed up as fast as I could back up." He drove in reverse to where George was and found her laying face down on the ground. He testified that he did not run over her. He picked her up and was going to put her on the seat, but there were some light bulbs on the seat, so he put her back down so he could move them. When he picked her up again, he realized she was dead. He then panicked and left.
Acker called Sabrina Ball to testify in his defense. The prosecutor objected to Ball's proposed testimony on hearsay grounds. Outside the presence of the jury, Ball described an incident that occurred on the night of 26 February, two weeks before George's death. After hearing her doorbell ring and a knock on her door, she opened her door to find George on her hands and knees in the front yard, crying and saying, "help me, help me." She was hysterical, upset, and shaking. Ball brought her inside and asked her what was wrong. She said that Acker was crazy and was going to kill her. George called the sheriff's department. She told Ball that she and Acker had been at Bustin' Loose and that a fight had started. They left the club and were driving to Acker's mother's house when Acker took her head and tried to beat it against the dashboard. She tried to jump out of the truck, but he grabbed her by her hair and dragged her back in. She said that her face was inches from the pavement.
Acker called Hopkins County Deputy Sheriff Anderson to testify. Once again outside the presence of the jury, Anderson said that he responded to a call from George at Ball's home on 26 February. George told him that he and Acker had gotten into an argument at Bustin' Loose and that she tried to jump out of his truck, but that Acker pulled her back in by the arm.
Acker previously served 2-1/2 years of a 10-year sentence for burglary from 1993 to 1995. He was paroled in October 1995. His parole was revoked and he was returned to prison in April 1997. He was released again in September 1999.
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