Amber McDaniel sentencing trial starts with talk of deleted text messages

Amber McDaniel at a Justice for Wilder rally prior to being charged.
Amber McDaniel at a Justice for Wilder rally prior to being charged.(KSWO)
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 11:25 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2023 at 5:26 PM CDT
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Fort Worth, Texas (KAUZ) - The trial resumed after lunch, with more of the 9,751 text messages between Stately and Amber read in the courtroom until approximately 4 p.m. Some of the messages spoke about a “tinder box” that Staley would joke about putting Wilder in.

After discussing the messages, Gillespie showed the jury a video that Staley sent Amber of Wilder with a bump on his head. In the video, Staley says that Wilder fell off the bed.

Then, defense attorney Barber questioned WFPD detective Fowler. During his line of questioning, he revisited some of the messages and pointed out that Amber was sad to leave Wilder at daycare, alone in his bed, and so forth. Barber asked Fowler if he knew Staley and Amber well enough to know if they were joking in their text messages.

Gillespie pointed out that Amber lied to law enforcement during interviews about Wilder’s death and showed her confession under oath, which stated that she understood what the violent messages putting Wilder in danger meant.

As of 4:45 p.m., the trial is in recess until 9 a.m. tomorrow, Sept. 12. Detective Fowler is allowed to leave but is still under court subpoena.

Testimony in the sentencing trial for Amber McDaniel, who pleaded guilty to charges back in April related to the murder of her son, began this morning.

Opening statements began with Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie. He took this time to lay out the relationship between James Staley and Amber McDaniel. Gillespie highlighted the violent signs that Staley had shown towards Wilder McDaniel, Amber’s son.

Gillespie then talked about Amber and Bubba McDaniel’s “Justice for Wilder” campaign and how Amber benefited from the campaign.

When the Defense team had time to talk, they argued that Amber was a good mother for the first two years of Wilder’s life and pointed out that Amber lived with her parents, had a job, and paid rent and bills.

The Defense then highlighted how when Amber and Staley got into a fight, Staley would purposely go after Wilder because that was the only way to get under Amber’s skin. Defense Attorney Mark Barber mentioned how Amber will be testifying during the trial.

After the Defense ended their opening statements at 10:05 a.m., Gillespie called the first witness, WFPD Detective Tanner Fowler. Fowler has been with WFPD for just over 10 years.

During questioning, Fowler stated that Amber did not disclose certain text messages, including one mentioning how Wilder “... should be culled.” Gillespie then mentioned how there were 9,751 text messages between Amber and Staley that were deleted.

While on the stand, Fowler mentioned how those deleted messages were very important during the capital murder case against James Staley.

Alyssa Osterdock is in the courtroom, covering the latest developments. Be sure to stick with News Channel 6 for updates during the court proceedings.


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