AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story will be updated frequently throughout proceedings in the punishment trial of Amber McDaniel. Refresh this page often for the latest.
FORT WORTH (KFDX/KJTL) — Amber Nichole McDaniel, who pleaded guilty to felony charges connected to the 2018 murder of her 2-year-old son will soon face a jury of 12 men and women from Tarrant County, who will determine her sentence.
McDaniel, 33, of Wichita Falls, is facing a sentence ranging from probation to a total of up to 12 years behind bars on the two felony charges filed against her relating to the death of her son, 2-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel, in October 2018.
Prior to a jury being selected, a pre-trial hearing is set for 10 a.m. Jury selection is set to begin in Auxillary Trial Room E of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center at 1 p.m. on Monday, September 11, 2023.
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.
It is unclear at this time how the shooting involving Bubba McDaniel will affect the schedule of the trial, if at all.
30th District Court Judge Jeff McKnight will preside over the trial, with Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie serving as lead prosecutor and Mark Barber serving as the defense attorney for McDaniel.
A running live blog of proceedings on Monday, September 11, 2023, in the punishment trial of Amber McDaniel can be found below.
4:40 p.m. — Judge McKnight announces the jury in Amber McDaniel’s punishment trial, made up of seven women and five men, with one male alternate. The jury is sworn in by Judge McKnight. The members of the jury pool who were not selected to be on the jury were dismissed from the courtroom.
4:35 p.m. — A jury of 12 men and women who reside in Tarrant County is in the process of being selected in Auxiliary Trial Room E. The jury pool has been called back into the courtroom. The final jury selection is expected to be announced shortly.
4:15 p.m. — The court was dismissed to a recess until 4:30 p.m. Gillespie completed his voir dire questioning of the jury pool. McDaniel’s defense attorney Mark Barber then completed his voir dire questioning of the jury pool. With both the prosecution and the defense wrapping up, it appears a jury of 12 men and women will soon be selected.
3:10 p.m. — The jury pool returned to the courtroom and voir dire proceedings resumed. No updates on the jury selection process were given during the recess.
3:00 p.m. — The jury pool was dismissed for a brief recess. At the time, the prosecution, led by John Gillespie, was still questioning the jury pool as a part of their voir dire proceedings. Once the prosecution concludes its questioning, defense attorney Mark Barber will then have the opportunity to question the jury pool.
1:36 p.m. — Several members of Amber McDaniel’s family were seated inside the courtroom as voir dire proceedings began.
1:33 p.m. — Due to limited seating in Auxiliary Trial Room E, members of the media currently cannot sit in. Updates will be given as new information becomes available.
1:30 p.m. — Jury selection is underway in Auxiliary Trial Room E. A jury pool of nearly 70 men and women residing in Tarrant County has been brought into the courtroom for voir dire proceedings. Ultimately, lead prosecutor John Gillespie and defense attorney Mark Barber will ask the jury pool several questions, narrowing the pool down to a jury of 12 men and women, who will be tasked with determining McDaniel’s sentence.
With all pre-trial matters discussed, Judge McKnight informs counsel for the state and the defense that voir dire proceedings will begin at 1 p.m. in Auxillary Trial Room E.
10:06 a.m. — Judge McKnight said no recording will be allowed inside of the courtroom during proceedings.
10:04 a.m. — Judge McKnight said voir dire proceedings will begin at 1 p.m. Gillespie told Judge McKnight he expected to need about 2 hours for voir dire and Barber said he needed about an hour. Judge McKnight told Gillespie he would give him an hour and a half.
10:02 a.m. — Barber and Gillespie address pre-trial motions and issues ahead of jury selection and testimony in McDaniel’s trial. Included among these are extraneous offenses the prosecution intends to introduce into evidence, as well as redacted text messages between McDaniel and James Staley, which Barber and Gillespie notify Judge McKnight they have discussed beforehand.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.