James Staley murder trial: Testimonies continue for eighth day

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:10 AM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Testimonies continued for the eighth day on Wednesday, March 8, 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.


Forensic Biologist Courtney Ferreira, with the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, took the stand on Wednesday.

Ferreira worked the case involving Wilder’s death, and did DNA testing on the pillow from the crib. Ferreira testified the DNA tested from the pillow was a mixture of Wilder’s (major contributor) and Staley’s (minor contributor).

She said if someone used a pillow to smother someone, there is a high chance they would get their DNA on the pillow.

Ferreira continued her testimony by saying Amber’s DNA was excluded from all DNA samples taken from the pillow.

Wilder’s fingernail DNA was tested, and both his and Staley’s DNA profiles were found. Amber was excluded from the fingernail DNA. Ferreira testified that Amber was not included in any of the DNA analysis she took.

The defense began their cross-examination of Ferreira by asking her if there is any way to know exactly when DNA was left, to which she said, “no.”

Staley’s lawyers argued if he had changed the sheets of the crib, and since it was his crib and resided in his home, it’s not shocking that his DNA was found on it. They also revisited that the pillow, sheet, and blanket were all put in the same evidence bag, suggesting transfer of DNA.

The defense asked Ferreira if she knows what CPR is, to which she said, “yes.” They then said performing CPR can leave their DNA on that person.


Tom Bevel, a crime scene reconstruction company owner, was the next person to testify, but not before the defense tried to have him discredited. Staley’s lawyers questioned Bevel’s credibility, as well as his relevance to the case.

Judge Young found Bevel to be credible and said he is qualified in bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction, but not as a medical professional. His testimony will be heard by the jury.

Bevel testified that the bloodstain pattern is not consistent with a child who fell out of a crib. He said there looks to be a bloodstain on the pillow that resembles a palm print, saying it was likely the blood was transferred from another source. They then showed pictures of Wilder’s palms, and he did not have blood on his hands.

Bevel said if the blood was the result of a fall, he would expect to see the smearing of blood on the ground. He also said the blood being inside the crib does match not up with a fall. Bevel continued by saying the transfer of blood from the mouth to the floor is much more consistent with the child being laid down on the ground, rather than a fall from a crib.

By using a doll, Bevel then demonstrated how it would have looked if a child fell out of a crib, while continuing to explain the blood smearing he would expect to see if Wilder had fallen out.

Bevel testified that the evidence led him to believe there was a struggle in the crib before Wilder was moved to the floor. He said based on the location of the blood in the crib, it is consistent with something being held over the mouth of Wilder, and after it occurred, he was removed from the crib.

Staley’s lawyers opened their cross-examination of Bevel by pointing out what they called “sloppy errors and misspellings” in Bevel’s report, asking if that reflects the accuracy and quality of his findings.

Voices were then raised between Bevel and Staley’s lawyers. The defense pointed out that in Bevel’s report, he called a spot a “stain,” even though the SWIFS report says that same spot is not a stain.


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.