Alabama Supreme Court rejects Nick Acklin’s appeal in 1996 Huntsville ‘cell phone murder’ case that left 4 dead

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Alabama Supreme Court denied the appeal of one of the men convicted in the notorious Huntsville cell phone murders in 1996 which left four people dead.

Nick Acklin and Joey Wilson were convicted of killing four people execution-style in September 1996.

Investigators say the men tortured six hostages, killing four of them, in a home on Highway 72 in 1996. The case became known as the "cell phone murders."

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong was an EMT who responded to the scene of the murders at a house on University Drive. He recalled what it was like in a 2011 interview.

"I can still remember that when we walked into this residence, you could still smell the gunpowder in the air ... there had been so many shots fired," Dale said.

Acklin's direct appeals had been rejected years earlier. He was pursuing a Rule 32 appeal which focuses on issues like ineffective counsel and unfair trial.

That appeal was the subject of three days of hearings in Huntsville in 2013. Acklin's lawyers argued that the jury was never told Acklin grew up in an abusive home and was given Xanax during the trial, which caused him to seem emotionless. They also said his lawyers were ineffective.

But in 2015, a Madison County court rejected that appeal, saying quote, "If the death penalty is not appropriate in this case, then the court would be hard-pressed to identify a factual scenario where it would be appropriate."

The Supreme Court declined to overrule that.

Acklin is currently on death row along with Wilson.