August trial set for accused double-murderer
An August trial is scheduled for a man accused of murdering two Acadia Parish women, then burning their house down to cover the homicides.
Daniel Prince, 33, of New Iberia but currently a guest of Angola, is charged with the Jan. 15, 2005 murders of Jackie Campbell and Angie Motte, both of Branch.
He was arrested by Acadia authorities in 2007 after allegedly bragging to fellow inmates about the murders and was indicted in October 2007.
At a hearing this month, his trial date was set for Aug. 30, with pre-trial motion hearings scheduled March 8 and May 17 before Judge Kristian Earles.
Among those motions is one by defense lawyer Burleigh Doga that the state be prohibited from trial arguments that are improper in capital cases, impropriety established under various case law citations.
Fire authorities discovered Campbell’s body on the floor of a bedroom in the trailer and Motte’s body on the bed in the same room. Indications were the early morning fire started in that room.
Investigators noted finding a ligature of some nature, possibly a wire, around Motte’s neck.
Subsequent autopsies revealed both women were dead before the fire began, either from strangulation, suffocation, drug overdose or asphyxiation.
The grisly discoveries came just hours after the women set out on a birthday celebration. January 14, 2005 was Campbell’s 40th birthday. Motte was 38 at the time.
Campbell picked up her friend when Motte finished work at GJ’s in Branch and they left to party, ending up at the Little Easy nightspot.
At closing time, Campbell told a witness at the club that a man not known to regulars there was going home with the women.
Four nights after the fire, the Little Easy was broken into and its video poker machine burglarized. A vehicle description from previous such thefts in Acadiana matched the description of truck seen leaving the fire area on the morning of the blaze.
The vehicle was spotted on Jan. 19 at a Lafayette motel and Prince was taken into custody, charged with being a convicted felon in possession of stolen things.
During interrogation, he allegedly admitted to breaking into Little Easy and other establishments and said he was at the club on the night the two women were killed, but, according to the transcript, said he did not recall them though, he said, he may have danced with one of them.
Routine serum samples were taken and it was noted at the time that Prince had scratches on the inside of one wrist.
Detectives may have thought they had their man, but they couldn’t tie it up at that point.
The allegation that broke the case came in July 2005. By then, Prince was in the St. Landry Parish Jail. According to a fellow inmate, Prince asked if he remembered the killings six months earlier and then told him the following:
Prince, according to the inmate, was at the Little Easy to “case it” - preview its layout before robbing it -- and there were two women there celebrating one’ of them’s birthday.
As he was leaving, one came up to him and asked, “What are you doing tonight” and said she said to follow her. He did.
At the trailer, the inmate said Prince said, the woman (subsequently identified as Campbell) said she was going to change into something comfortable. After that, they went into another room and began having sex.
During that, he allegedly told the inmate, Prince “just started choking her and choked her to death for about seven or eight minutes and he was tired.”
Prince, according to the inmate, said he then went to the front room and starting talking to her friend (Motte), who was reading a book. He tried several times to get her to the bedroom but she wouldn’t go.
Finally, the inmate said, Prince went into the other room and yelled at Motte to come see her friend. ”When she came in, he jumped her and caught her around the mouth, not the throat. He choked her, then dragged her to the hall and searched for money,” the inmate quotes Prince as saying.
Motte at that point was not dead. Prince allegedly “heard her gasping for breath, ripped an extension cord off a heater, dragged the woman back into the room, tied the cord around her neck and tied the cord to the bed’s headboard or did something to where her neck was hanging, cutting the wind out of her.”
According to the inmate, Prince said he then started a fire under the mattress, laid on top of his victim until the fire totally started, then left and was home by 5:30 a.m.
A month after the inmate told authorities this story, another inmate informed them that Prince had told him about the murders.
But the assertions by the inmates was not enough for the parish to lodge a charge.
Prince was subsequently transferred to a state facility near Kinder, where the case break came.
Allegedly, Prince again talked to an inmate in December 2006 about the murders almost two years earlier. The inmate alerted authorities and the inmate was wired the next time Prince brought the subject up.
Some details of his version at that time differ from the allegations of 18 months earlier, but the end result was the same.