Man Convicted in Huntsville’s Cell Phone Murders Tries for New Trial
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A man charged in one of Huntsville’s most gruesome murders appeared in court Thursday afternoon.
Nicholas Acklin, convicted of killing four people in 1996, is asking for a new trial. Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer has been assigned the case, and reviewed various arguments with Acklin’s attorney and the prosecutor from the Alabama Attorney General’s office.
The next step in the case is an evidentiary hearing scheduled for December 9-12, possibly through the 13th, if another day is needed. Judge Comer ruled on various claims Thursday that will affect what is allowed during that hearing. Some had to do with which expert witnesses the defense would call. Other claims had to do with Xanax, and whether or not Acklin being on a prescription of Xanax may have affected the jury’s perception of him during the 1998 trial.
WHNT News 19 blogged through the hearing. Read our updates.
Acklin claims his trial counsel was ineffective, and he has new lawyers representing him for his appeal. William R. Montross of the Southern Center for Human Rights is one of them.
Jon Hayden, of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, is prosecuting the appeal.
Acklin was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of four people in a crime dubbed ‘Huntsville’s cell phone murders.’
The murders happened on September 25, 1996 inside a home on Highway 72 west near the Huntsville city limits. A jury determined Acklin and two others, Joey Wilson and Corey Johnson held seven people at gunpoint for nearly two hours, assaulting, torturing and humiliating them. Acklin and Wilson opened fire, emptying 19 rounds, all over a stolen cell phone.
Four people died, Charles Larnar Hemphill, Bryan Carter, Michael Beaudette and Johnny Couch. Two others were wounded, Ashley Rutherford and Michelle Hayden Mills.
Acklin and Wilson are both on death row at Holman Prison. The third person convicted in the case, Corey Johnson, was released in 2011 after serving his 15-year sentence.