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Life for Buchanan Dam man in ’22 murder

Daniel Keith Smith Sr., 58, of Buchanan Dam

Daniel Keith Smith Sr., 58, of Buchanan Dam was sentenced to life in prison on Aug. 9, 2023, for the May 2022 killing of John Hawkins, 58, whom he stabbed during a confrontation at a Burnet restaurant. Burnet County Jail photo

Daniel Keith Smith Sr., 58, of Buchanan Dam was sentenced to life in prison and given a $10,000 fine on Wednesday, Aug. 9, for the Mother’s Day 2022 killing of John Hawkins, also 58. Smith stabbed Hawkins during a confrontation at a Burnet restaurant. He pleaded guilty to murder prior to the three-day punishment trial leading up to his sentencing by 424th District Judge Evan Stubbs.

Smith will have to serve 30 years of his sentence before he’s eligible to seek parole.

“The actions of this defendant have impacted the family of Mr. Hawkins and members of the community who worked with him in a tragic and selfish way,” said District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee in a media release issued by his office. “We’re grateful for the jury removing him from our community for as long as the law will allow.”

Smith was arrested on May 8, 2022, on two counts of aggravated assault after stabbing Hawkins. The charge was upgraded to murder after Hawkins died from his wounds on May 21, 2022.

Smith was stalking his estranged wife and Hawkins in the days leading up to the stabbing, according to text messages presented as evidence during his punishment trial. On May 8, he went to the Burnet restaurant where both his wife and Hawkins worked, and, having previously been told not to enter the premises, tried to get inside. Hawkins confronted Smith, and Smith stabbed him “multiple times.”

Smith then found his wife and threatened her with the same knife. Hawkins, despite his grievous injuries, tried to stop Smith using a garden tool, but Smith attacked him again, causing further injuries.

Law enforcement arrested Smith a short time after the crime as he was walking away from the scene with a bloody knife.

One of the prosecuting attorneys on the case, Assistant DA Tiffany Clark, said no amount of years in prison could restore what Smith took from Hawkins’ family, but a life sentence would bring justice to the victim and respect his ultimate sacrifice.