HARKER HEIGHTS — The brutal 2012 Killeen murder of Danielle Acosta-Guerrero was placed on full display Friday during an educational conference focused on family violence.
Officials from the Killeen Police Department and the Bell County District Attorney’s Office gave a case study of the murder — from the initial 911 call on Aug. 17, 2012, to the life sentence handed down to David Michael Vega on May 1 — to more than 200 attendees.
The crowd went silent as Detective Richard Tramp outlined the 30 blunt-force trauma wounds and 25 stab wounds Vega inflicted on Acosta-Guerrero during an extended assault with a machete that was witnessed by her 6-year-old son.
Vega also assaulted the 6-year-old, strangling the boy repeatedly and throwing him against an object. When police arrived on the scene, they believed the boy was dead because they found him clutching his mother’s leg covered in her blood.
The case study was part of the two-day “Bridging the Gap” conference hosted by the Central Texas Family Violence Task Force.
It is the fifth year the regional interagency group organized the event that offers training on issues surrounding family violence.
The case study focused on the victim’s assistance coordination required when a child is involved. On top of Acosta-Guerrero’s son being a victim in the crime, two of her daughters were sleeping at a friend’s house next door when the murder occurred.
Victim’s assistance began almost immediately with KPD Victim Liaison Coordinator Lisa Hatfield assisting the children.
Forensic interviewers also had to use special techniques to speak with Acosta-Guerrero’s son as soon as possible.
Investigators closed the case quickly. But the district attorney’s office on a regular basis made contact with the family.
They avoided a trial, which most agreed was ideal for Acosta-Guerrero’s son. The boy now lives with his father in California. The Army allowed his father to relocate from Korea to care for his children.
All the efforts of KPD and the DA’s office did not go unnoticed.
“People like you guys were able to teach me how to heal,” said Joy Thierry, who witnessed the murder of her father in Louisiana as a small child. “I thank God for you.”