James Staley murder trial: Jury hears testimonies for second day

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 12:34 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Testimonies continued for the second day on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, for the trial of the man accused of murdering 2-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel in his home in October of 2018.

Judge Everett Young is presiding over James Staley III’s case at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth. News Channel 6′s Alyssa Osterdock and Joseph Saint will be covering the trial to bring you the latest developments.


Wichita Falls Police Department crime scene technician Kelly Collins continued her testimony Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors began bringing in pieces of evidence to show the jury. Some of that evidence so far has included Wilder’s crib, a pillow that prosecutors said he was suffocated with, as well as the clothes Wilder’s mother, Amber McDaniel, was wearing the day the boy was found dead.

Staley’s lawyers then questioned Collins, suggesting the evidence investigators took from the residence might have been contaminated.

They questioned why the sheet, blanket and pillow from the crib were all put in the same bag together, suggesting they could have been contaminated. They said if DNA was on one item, it could have been transferred to another item since they were in the same bag.

Bradley Prigmore, a childhood friend of Staley, took the stand around 11:30 a.m. He said he received text messages from Staley in a group text in 2018 that included a video of Wilder crying and running away from the camera. Text messages attached showed Staley calling Wilder derogatory names.

Staley’s lawyers then asked Prigmore what he believe Staley’s personality to be, to which he said he has seen Staley show manipulative behavior over the years. Staley’s lawyers also asked Prigmore if the video was concerning enough to go to the police, to which he said no.


Chad Nelson, the former lead detective in Wilder’s case, was the next person to testify. He said when he arrived at the residence on the day Wilder was found dead, Staley was on the ground with his knees up to his chest. Nelson said he questioned why Staley was on the ground instead of comforting his girlfriend.

Nelson then said during an interview, Staley told him Amber went to bed before him on the night of Wilder’s death and he had stayed up “a while longer” eating ice cream sandwiches and chips and salsa. Staley said Amber went to bed in the master bedroom, while he slept on the couch in the living room, according to Nelson.

The morning Wilder was found dead, Staley allegedly told Nelson that he had not taken his mood stabilizer medication for 2-3 days. Nelson did not see any signs of a break-in or an intruder at the house.

Nelson continued by saying Amber did not know there was blood in the crib until Nelson told her two hours after Wilder was found dead. She covered her mouth and sobbed, “There was blood? Did James do something?” The state presented a video of Nelson’s interview with Amber showing the conversation.

In the defense’s cross examination, Staley’s lawyers questioned Nelson about WFPD’s attention to detail and why evidence took so long to process. Nelson testified that departments saw staff cuts due to COVID.


Jury selection ran for three days starting on Feb. 22, 2023, with 100 potential jurors dwindled down to seven men and seven women who will serve as 12 jurors and two alternates. Staley’s trial is expected to last up to two weeks, according to Judge Young.

The defense and prosecution teams made their opening statements on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, which were followed by testimonies from five people.

Staley has pleaded not guilty to the crime. In August of 2022, Staley’s change of venue request was approved and his trial was moved from Wichita County to Tarrant County.

Staley’s attorneys had said the local jury pool has been tainted against him due to media coverage and Facebook outcry, and the safety of Staley and anyone connected to the case was also a concern.