Henderson County man gets 70 years in shooting death of wife

Henderson County man gets 70 years in shooting death of wife
Daniel Joseph Scott (Source: Henderson County Jail)

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - A day after a Henderson County jury sentenced a Eustace man to 70 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of his wife, a press release provided new details on what happened.

Daniel Joseph Scott claimed that he accidentally shot his wife while he was practicing his "quick draw" with what he thought was an unloaded gun, according to a press release from the Henderson County District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Mark Hall said a jury found Daniel Joseph Scott guilty of murder on Tuesday. The same jury sentenced Daniel Scott to 70 years in prison on Wednesday. Under current Texas law, Daniel Scott will not be eligible for parole until 2046.

Daniel Scott, 30, was arrested in December of 2016 after his wife, Alicia Scott, died from a gunshot wound. According to a press release from the Henderson County District Attorney's Office, Scott shot his wife of 12 years in the head with a .357-caliber revolver. The couple had three small children who were not home at the time.

"[Daniel] Scott claimed on the night of the murder that he had been playing with what he thought was an unloaded gun by practicing his "quick draw" in the living room while Alicia was in an adjoining room on her phone," the press release stated. "He described to investigators that he was 'spinning and clicking' the gun multiple times and that on the last time, the gun went off, shooting his wife in the forehead as she walked into the room."

He speculated that his wife heard the clicking of the gun and that prompted her to come into the room, the press release stated.

Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigators obtained a search warrant for the home and found the pistol on a couch in the living room. It was a six-shot revolver that was fully loaded with five live rounds and one shell casing. None of the live rounds had a primer strike mark that would have indicated it had been struck by the firing pin, which occurs when the hammer falls.

"It was immediately apparent to officers that his story about spinning and clicking the gun was not possible," Hall said.

In addition, Daniel Scott allegedly told Ray Yockey, the lead investigator on the case, that Alicia stepped in front of the gun all of a sudden, which was inconsistent with his statements that he "aimed" the gun and "pulled the trigger" while he was "looking right at her."

"It is simply not plausible that she could be fast enough to step in front of a bullet that has been 'aimed' by a person 'looking right at' the victim when he pulls the trigger," Hall said. "When that is added to everything else that was going and had gone on between the two not just in the few days leading up to her death, but for years, the jury obviously believed that he intentionally and knowingly shot and killed his wife."

Daniel Scott told the investigators that he and his wife had not been having any problems or arguing before the shooting incident. However, when the couple's cell phones were forensically examined, the examinations revealed that there had been some type of ongoing dispute since Christmas Day of that year leading up to minutes before Alicia's death.

The examination of Daniel Scott's cell phone showed that he had been communicating his desire to find a new love interest in some type of internet classifieds within hours of the shooting, the press release stated.

"In both the guilt-innocence and sentencing phases of the trial, a longtime friend of the Scotts that had lived and traveled with them extensively for a number of years, related in graphic detail a pattern of sexual and physical abuse that he had observed over the years," the press release stated. "His warnings to the family of Scott about Daniel's violent nature and the abusive acts toward Alicia had gone unheeded."

According to the press release, the defense vigorously questioned and attacked the thoroughness of the overall investigation and highlighted other things that could have been done." The press release said Yockey responded during the trial by saying, "This was not a 'whodunit.'"

"Even though the defendant tried to come up with an explanation as to why this was an accident, it just didn't wash," Hall said. "As far as the quality of the investigation was concerned, Ray Yockey did everything necessary for us to be able to put together a strong case. It's not uncommon for the defense to attack the investigation when that is the only thing you have to hang your hat on."

Hall said that Yockey and the Henderson County Sheriff's Office mobilized every resource and person necessary to begin working on the case immediately, and they delivered.

"I just wish that everyone in the county could fully comprehend what it takes and what they do on a daily basis to keep us safe," Hall said. 'I for one, and most certainly speaking for many in our community, am proud of the work they do."

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