Acker’s attorneys speak out

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Attorneys for Daniel Acker Jr., a 49-year-old man arrested and charged with six counts of molesting girls during his 25-year teaching tenure in the city, alleged Shelby County would not be a “fair venue” for Acker’s trial in a statement released to the media Jan. 20.

Barry Alvis

In the statement, which was released by Birmingham attorneys Barry Alvis and Lara McCauley Alvis, the attorneys said they would “not comment on the allegations against Mr. Acker except through the court proceedings,” but said Acker has “a right to (his) day in court and a fair trial.”

“The evidence should be reviewed and weighed by a jury of fair-minded peers,” the attorneys wrote in the release. “Trying a criminal case in the media taints the jury pool and the location where the alleged crime took place is no longer a fair venue for the trial.”

The Alvises released the statement after several requests for comments from the Shelby County Reporter in the weeks following Acker’s Jan. 4 arrest.

“(We) have not released a statement on his behalf in an effort to maintain the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the attorneys wrote in the release. “Certainly, the public has a right to know what is happening in the community, but all people charged with criminal offenses in the United States have a right to their day in court and a fair trial.

Lara Alvis

“Mr. Acker has an absolute right to his day in court, and we will assist him in every way possible to make sure the trial is one that he is constitutionally guaranteed,” read the statement.

The Alvis’ statement came after all of Shelby County’s Circuit Court judges recused themselves from handling Acker’s case. If the county’s two District Court judges also recuse themselves from handling the case, it will be handled by an outside judge.

Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens also successfully requested he be recused from prosecuting Acker, citing his friendship with Acker’s father, Daniel Acker Sr.

The Alabama Attorney General has appointed Pell City District Attorney Richard Minor to prosecute the case.

Lamar Williamson, an assistant St. Clair County district attorney who is working with Minor to prosecute the case, said Jan. 20 he could not comment on the Alvis’ claim Shelby County would not be a fair venue for Acker’s trial.

“We just can’t comment on that right now,” Williamson said.

Acker currently is being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $745,000, and is facing six charges of first-degree sexual abuse.