TARRANT COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Perhaps the most stunning moment of the capital murder trial of the man convicted of killing 2-year-old Wilder McDaniel in October 2018 is now the source of yet another delay in the defense’s appeal case.
James Irven Staley, III, was found guilty of capital murder by a Tarrant County jury on March 13, 2023, and he was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for Wilder’s death in 2018.
Staley is currently incarcerated in the Clements Unit in Amarillo, where he awaits the result of the appeal process from the Second Court of Appeals. However, despite multiple deadline extensions for Staley’s defense team, a brief laying out the grounds for an appeal has yet to be filed.
Staley’s defense requests yet another extension
On Monday, October 23, 2023, which was intended to be the due date for the defense to file Staley’s brief, a motion was filed by Keith Hampton, Staley’s defense attorney, requesting an extension of 30 days to file the document.
This marks the third time an extension has been requested by Hampton. Originally, the deadline for Staley’s defense to file a brief on his behalf was August 22, 2023.
In the motion, Hampton said an exhibit crucial to the appeal has been absent from the appellate record. He said the exhibit was also crucial during Staley’s trial and that it would be necessary for the Court’s review of the case.
Included in the motion is an email correspondence sent on October 19 from Senior District Judge Everett Young, who presided over Staley’s capital murder case. In this email, it is revealed that the exhibit in question is a file containing perhaps the most shocking moment of Staley’s capital murder trial.
Missing exhibit revealed to be “Slapping Video”
The exhibit in question is a video file that was extracted from Staley’s Mac Mini, admitted into evidence, and played in court during the prosecution’s case. The footage shows Staley violently slapping Wilder while he was asleep on a couch inside Staley’s residence on Irving Place.
In the video, Staley can be seen walking behind a couch after starting the recording on a GoPro camera. He then hides behind a couch, where Wilder can be seen sleeping. After a few seconds, he jumps up, fully extends his arm, raises his hand above his head, and forcefully brings down his open hand, striking Wilder hard on his face with a loud pop.
Audible gasps could be heard in the courtroom, and multiple members of the jury were seen bringing their hands up to their faces. One juror began crying with their eyes covered. Audible sniffles from a tearful gallery could be heard for the duration of that video.
Later during Staley’s trial, the prosecution would use the slapping video to establish a connection between the disturbing text messages sent by Staley expressing hatred toward Wilder and physical acts of violence committed by Staley. Ultimately, the video would be arguably the most important piece of evidence admitted during the trial.
Partial extension to file Staley’s brief granted
According to the email correspondence from Judge Young, it was determined that video equipment in Tarrant County was unable to play a file as large as the video of Staley slapping Wilder.
In the email, Judge Young said a copy of the video would be transferred onto a new thumb drive and sent directly to Hampton and the other individuals included in the email.
The Second Court of Appeals partially granted the defense’s motion, extending the deadline for submission of the appellate brief, however, the deadline was extended until November 8, 2023, instead of the requested deadline of November 22, 2023.
According to the order from the Second Court of Appeals, further extension requests made by Staley’s defense team are strongly disfavored.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.