James Staley murder trial: Testimonies continue for fifth day

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 11:55 AM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Testimonies continued for the fifth day on Friday, March 3, 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.


The jury heard the agonizing 911 call Amber McDaniel made the morning she found Wilder dead.

However, the main focus so far on Friday has been on cellphones that were seized by the Wichita Falls Police Department to help the investigation into Wilder’s death.

The jury heard from a former senior special agent with the secret service, a retired WFPD detective who worked in computer and cell phone forensics, and a man named Jason Hawks, who previously worked with the FBI regarding cellphone investigations.

In this case, Hawks analyzed cell tower data to get a pattern analysis of Staley’s cellphone.

He presented a cell map analysis that indicated Staley’s phone was at his house on Irving Place the night Wilder died, then traveled to his office on Southwest Parkway and Taft, and returned home to Irving Place, all between 2-3 a.m. the night Wilder is believed to have been killed.

The prosecution asked Hawks if that phone pattern could be consistent with someone who had committed a murder, left to go somewhere to calm down, and returned home. His answer: yes it could be.

The defense then asked if that pattern could be consistent with someone who just went to their office to file their taxes. They went back and forth about the question before Hawks finally answered, “yeah, I guess.”


Prosecutors moved to play two videos for the jury, but not before the defense tried to have both of them dismissed. Staley’s lawyers claimed that just because he slapped him in that video, it does not show proof that he suffocated Wilder weeks after the video was taken.

The jury then left the room and two videos were played before the defense and judge.

The first video showed Wilder sleeping on a couch. Staley sets up a camera in the living room, walks over to Wilder, hides behind the couch, and then jumps in and strikes Wilder in the face. Afterward, Staley hides behind the couch so Wilder can’t see him. Wilder wakes up screaming and crying, repeatedly saying, “no James, no James.”

Staley opens and closes the back door, making it look like he just came into the house, and then asks Wilder why he is crying.

The second video shows Staley holding Wilder on the couch. Wilder has a visible bump and bruise on his forehead. Staley says “Wilder fell off the bed, but he’s saying I pushed him off the bed, isn’t that right?” and Wilder nods his head “yes.”

The judge then decided to allow the videos to be played before the jury. As prosecutors played the videos again, several jurors could be seen covering their eyes and putting their heads down. Several sniffles could also be heard throughout the courtroom. Staley kept his head down as the videos were played.

Prosecutors later read a text conversation between Staley and his daughter’s mother, Tara Campisi, out loud. In the conversation, Tara said that Staley’s daughter Brooklyn said, “daddy wanted me to tell people he didn’t push Wilder off the bed, but he did. Daddy is the liar.”

Staley later admitted to pushing Wilder off the bed in the same text conversation with Campisi.

Detective Fowler, who is in the Crimes against persons unit, took the stand on Friday. During his testimony, Fowler points out that Staley and Wilder are wearing the same clothes in both videos that were shown to the jury. He then points out a screenshot taken from the first video, at the point where Staley’s hand makes contact with Wilder, which seems to be the same location where Wilder’s injury can be seen in the second video.

Another video prosecutors showed was of Staley and Wilder laying down. Staley asks, “is James mean?” To which Wilder replies, “yeah,” while seemingly crying. Staley then asks Wilder, “do you love your momma?” To which Wilder also replies, “yeah.”

It was later noted that Staley edited out the part of the video where Wilder said James is mean, and sent it to his mother, Nancy, 11 days after Wilder’s death. Nancy replied to the video by calling it “cute.”


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.