Sentencing begins in Hacker murder
A Rockdale woman is facing 50 years in prison for murder.
Candice Nicole Jones, 32, of Rockdale, was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder on April 11 for her role in the revenge slaying more than two years ago. Under a plea deal, Jones waived all rights to appeal.
Jones was originally charged with capital murder in the January 2017 death of Emily Hacker, 34, whose body was found in a shallow grave 10 days after she disappeared.
Edward Brannon Barry, 32, of Caldwell will face sentencing Aug. 16.
Both hearings are set before 20th District Court Judge John Youngblood.
In April, the two entered guilty pleas for the first-degree felony murder of Hacker. In pleading guilty, they also pled open to the court with sentencing and restitution to be determined after a pre-sentence investigation. As part of the agreements, sentences will be capped at 50 years each and both Jones and Barry have agreed to waive all rights to appeal the outcome.
This brings to a close the first half of the trials expected to take place in connection to the 2017 murder of Hacker. Also indicted for her murder were 24-year-old Ashley Yvonne Wesson-Zawadzke and 37-year-old John Wayne Stewart. All four had been charged and indicted for capital murder, though the DA’s Office had previously said they would not seek the death penalty in the case.
The trials for the four suspects had already been delayed at least three times. The reasons for the delays included defense attorneys reviewing recorded jail conversations, changes in attorneys, lab work, and other issues. A fifth suspect in the case, 31-year-old Kevin Cormier, is also in custody and is charged with tampering with evidence for his alleged role in helping to move Hacker’s body after she had been killed. No trial date has been set for him.
In arrest affidavits unsealed last year authorities detailed how the suspects are alleged to have bound and beaten Hacker to death and then attempted to cover up the murder. A traffic stop that led to Jones’ arrest for possessing a firearm as a felon is thought to be the instigating factor leading to Hacker’s death.
Rockdale Police say Jones sought revenge on Hacker for being a snitch. Hacker was reported missing Jan. 19, 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.