Hacker murder trials once again delayed; now set for May
The capital murder trials of four people accused of killing Rockdale resident Emily Hacker have once again been delayed. Trials for 30-year-old Edward Brannon Barry, 29-year-old Candice Nicole Jones, 24-year-old Ashley Yvonne Wesson-Zawadzke, and 37-year-old John Wayne Stewart were set to begin on Monday, Jan. 14, but have been pushed back yet again until May at the earliest. Each of the four remain incarcerated at this time, held in lieu of bonds in connection to the 2017 murder of 34-year-old Emily Hacker. This is the fourth postponement of the trials. The initial trial was originally set for Sept. 9, 2017. That was moved to March 19, 2018, with the DA’s Office citing unanalyzed evidence at the DPS lab. In January 2018 by mutual consent the trial was moved to August. In June, defense attorneys went to court and obtained a reset until January 2019. Rockdale Police said that Jones sought revenge on Hacker for being a snitch. Hacker was reported missing Jan. 19, 2017, and authorities found her body eight days later, burned and buried in a shallow grave in rural Burleson County. Autopsy results show Hacker died of blunt force trauma. In arrest affidavits unsealed last year authorities detailed how the four suspects are alleged to have bound and beaten Hacker to death and then attempted to cover up the murder. The affidavit states that one of the defendants said that Jones took the victim in the back room or basement of the residence at 538 Coulter in Rockdale and after a short time Jones yelled for assistance and the three co-defendants came to Jones’ assistance. It states that Jones was sitting on the victim’s chest and was holding the victim’s head by a handful of hair and hitting the victim with anything Jones could grab in her other hand. A ratchet wrench was described as being used to inflict the fatal blow as well as other hand tools.