FORT WORTH (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury of seven women and five men are set to hear the last witnesses for the defense testify before determining a sentence in the punishment trial of Amber Nichole McDaniel, which is set to resume on Monday morning.

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

McDaniel, 33, of Wichita Falls, pleaded guilty in April 2023 to the felony charges of endangering a child and tampering with evidence related to the 2018 murder of her 2-year-old son Jason Wilder McDaniel. She faces a sentence ranging from probation to more than a decade behind bars.

Proceedings are set to continue on Monday, September 18, 2023, in Auxiliary Trial Room E on the seventh floor of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth, with the court returning from recess at 9 a.m.

The trial got underway on Monday, September 11, 2023, with the jury being selected on Monday afternoon. Live blogs of each day of proceedings so far can be found by following the links below:

Bubba McDaniel shot before proceedings began

Photo courtesy Christopher Walker (KFDX/KJTL)

Proceedings got underway hours after McDaniel’s husband and Wilder’s father, Bubba McDaniel, was hospitalized following a shooting on East Carolina Street in Wichita Falls on Sunday, September 10, 2023.

On Monday morning, September 11, 2023, a suspect who allegedly fired the shots at McDaniel, 21-year-old Edondre Smith, was taken into custody following a 2-hour incident with the Wichita Falls Police Department’s SWAT team.

The same morning, Bubba McDaniel underwent surgery on his elbow at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where just a few miles away, a jury made up of five men and seven women was selected for his wife’s punishment trial.

Prosecution lays foundation of its case

After a jury was seated, the testimony phase of the trial got underway on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, with the indictment by which McDaniel was charged being read in court. McDaniel, as she did in April 2023, pleaded guilty on both counts against her.

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

Following opening statements from John Gillespie, Wichita County’s District Attorney and lead prosecutor in this trial, as well as from Mark Barber, McDaniel’s defense attorney, the state began building its case to the jury with text messages recovered from the phone of James Staley between him and McDaniel.

Detective Tanner Fowler with the Wichita Falls Police Department was the first witness called to take the stand by Gillespie, and he remained on the stand until proceedings concluded on Tuesday afternoon.

While on the stand, Detective Fowler and Gillespie reviewed multiple text messages exchanged between McDaniel and Staley prior to Wilder’s murder. Gillespie argued these “psychotic” text messages showed malicious intent toward Wilder from Staley and that McDaniel should have not allowed Wilder to have access to him due to the things said during these exchanges.

WFPD personnel take the stand

Wednesday, September 13, Detective Chad Nelson took the stand, and the jury was able to see three very emotional, yet telling, police interviews with Amber McDaniel in their entirety.

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

It’s important to note that Detective Nelson was not cross-examined Wednesday. The defense attorney Mark Barber informed the court that he wishes to recall Detective Nelson during his Case-in-Chief and will be saving his cross-examining questions for that time.

Just before things wrapped up on Wednesday, the defense called another witness, Wichita Falls therapist Amanda Vickers, to the stand, and she was cross-examined, answering questions about how people deal with grief and what causes people to stay in toxic relationships like Staley and Amber did.

Wichita Falls Police Sergeant Brian Sheehan, Chief Investigator of the District Attorney’s Office Tye Davis, and Sgt. Marissa Cervantes was also called to the witness stand before the State rested its case on Thursday, September 14, 2023.

Defense builds case, calls family members to testify

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

The defense began calling witnesses on Thursday afternoon, beginning with Martha Staley, James’ sister, who said she and James grew up in an abusive household.

The defense then called two of McDaniel’s family members, her stepfather David Taylor, and her older sister Shalah Wakefield. They were questioned about the kind of relationship they had with Wilder and McDaniel, and how she’s changed since his death.

Gillespie’s cross-examination of both Taylor and Wakefield can be described as aggressive, asking both if they would have done something to stop Wilder from being alone with Staley had they been made aware of the text messages between McDaniel and Staley. Both were observed in tears while on the stand.

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

Friday, September 15, Barber called Tara Campisi to testify. She is a former girlfriend of Staley, with whom she shares a daughter. She testified to the extent of Staley’s manipulation and how her relationship with Staley was tumultuous and psychologically abusive.

Campisi testified that she wished McDaniel would’ve had more time to realize the dark jokes Staley would make were actually red flags of his ill intent.

McDaniel’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law were also called to the stand, who both emotionally recalled the time they’d spent in abusive relationships in the past and, despite seeing all the text messages, standing behind McDaniel in support.

Prosecutor in Staley’s trial takes stand for defense

On Friday, the defense called to the stand Lisa Tanner, the prosecutor who assisted Gillespie during the capital murder trial of James Staley, to testify on behalf of McDaniel.

Photo courtesy Markeshia Jackson (KFDX/KJTL)

Tanner testified that during Staley’s trial, she was tasked with questioning and cross-examining all forensic evidence, as well as the questioning of McDaniel. She testified she met with McDaniel several times in preparation for her testimony, which she gave during Staley’s trial at her own peril.

Tanner testified that very early in her preparation for Staley’s trial, she knew McDaniel “had nothing to do” with Wilder’s death, calling Staley the most manipulative defendant she’d ever experienced. She testified that Friday was the first time in her long career as a prosecutor that she’d ever taken the stand for a defendant.

Looking ahead in McDaniel’s trial

Photo courtesy Josh Hoggard (KFDX/KJTL)

Proceedings are set to continue on Monday, September 18, 2023, in Auxiliary Trial Room E on the seventh floor of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth, with the court returning from recess at 9 a.m.

Based on what McDaniel’s defense attorney Mark Barber said during his opening statements, McDaniel is still expected to take the stand, waiving her Fifth Amendment right yet again. McDaniel’s testimony is expected to begin after her mother, Dina Taylor, takes the stand to begin proceedings on Monday.

It is unknown if the defense intends to call any other witnesses on Monday before it rests its case, at which point the testimony phase of the trial will conclude. Then, the jury will be read its charge and both the prosecution and the defense will make their closing arguments.

At this point, the case will be given to a jury of five men and seven women, who will deliberate until they’re able to unanimously decide on a sentence for McDaniel. There is no timetable for when deliberations will begin or how long they will take once they do.

Digital Reporter Josh Hoggard will be live blogging all proceedings and Weekend Anchor Markeshia Jackson will provide updates live from Fort Worth every day.

This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for the latest from the punishment trial of Amber McDaniel. This story will be updated as new information becomes available, so refresh this page often.