Mother of slain 5-year-old boy testifies against ex-boyfriend accused of beating him

Nickolle Aguilar is testifying against Daniel Garcia as part of plea deal

SAN ANTONIO – The final moments of a 5-year-old boy’s life were shown to a jury Tuesday in the first day of a trial for a man charged in the child’s death.

Daniel Garcia is accused of fatally beating Domenic Aguilar-Acevedo in July 2021. The boy’s remains were found a month later in a ravine in Colorado.

Domenic’s mother, Nickolle Aguilar, who is also charged in the case, took the witness stand and testified against Garcia -- her ex-boyfriend -- as a part of a plea deal.

Aguilar testified how the two met in the fall of 2020 and eventually introduced their children to each other.

She said that Garcia was in a custody dispute with the mother of his children who lived in San Antonio so they decided to move to the Alamo City.

When they arrived in San Antonio in early July, they stayed at several hotels. Aguilar testified that Garcia told her that she didn’t discipline her son enough.

She said as they got to San Antonio the abuse was more frequent.

Aguilar said Garcia would hold Domenic down on the bed with one hand and hit him with the other hand.

“(Garcia would) make him take really cold showers, spank him and punch him in the butt,” Aguilar testified. “With close fists.” When the prosecutor asked Aguilar how many times Garcia hit the boy, she replied, “I don’t know a specific number.”

Aguilar testified that Garcia would punish Domenic because the boy wouldn’t provide him an answer right away, wouldn’t keep quiet, didn’t eat his food fast enough and one time had a bathroom accident.

On July 24, 2021, surveillance footage from a hotel showed Garcia and Aguilar walking down a stairwell with their four young children. In the video, Domenic is the only one wearing a hoodie, pajamas and a mask over his face. The boy is seen walking slowly down the stairs when Garcia tugs at him.

Several minutes later, Garcia is seen running back up the stairs with Domenic slumped over in his arms. Aguilar said that Domenic had started throwing up and Garcia took him back up to the room.

Minutes later, Aguilar goes back to the room herself.

“I walked into the bathroom, Domenic was laying in the bath tub unconscious,” she said.

Hours go by into the next day, and a little over 12 hours later, the video shows the couple leaving the hotel with Garcia carrying Domenic.

Aguilar said they never called 911 to seek help for Domenic and instead decided to flee to Colorado to bury her son’s body. She said it was her idea to go to Colorado because she had promised to take her kids there to see the snow.

“I wanted to leave him somewhere beautiful, and it was beautiful there,” she testified.

In opening statements, the defense shifted all the blame of Domenic’s death on Aguilar. They listed a timeline of investigations opened against her by Florida Child and Family services about the alleged lack of care she provided to her children.

They also mentioned text messages between Aguilar and Garcia in August 2021 after Domenic’s death of her saying how much she loved him.

One text allegedly said she failed her children and blames herself and not Garcia.

Aguilar has taken a plea deal and is charged with injury to a child by omission in exchange for her testimony. The maximum punishment she can receive is 15 years in prison.

Garcia faces a possible maximum punishment of up to life in prison on a charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.

Testimony will resume Tuesday morning in the 226th District Court.

KSAT 12 will be livestreaming Garcia’s trial on, KSAT Plus and KSAT’s YouTube channel.

You can learn more about the case below.

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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