WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The coming weeks will likely be the busiest season the Wichita County Courthouse has seen in a while, with major motion hearings on the docket in some of the biggest pending local cases, and three trials of three different murder defendants, each in a different district courtroom, all beginning on the same day.
And that’s during the first week of August.
Major upcoming hearings in high-profile cases
A pre-trial hearing was on the docket for Ashley Esselborn, the last remaining defendant charged in the brutal murder of Zachary Wood last year.
Esselborn’s jury trial was set to get underway on July 10. However, the trial was delayed at her attorney’s request. Her new trial date hasn’t been set yet, and a new trial date had not been set prior to Monday’s scheduled hearing.
During that hearing in the 30th District Court, however, Esselborn ended up pleading to the lesser charge of tampering with evidence and was sentenced to 8 years in prison with credit for 372 days of time served. Her pending murder charge was dropped.
The indictment against Esselborn was amended to include a charge of tampering with evidence as a lesser included offense prior to that hearing.
On Friday morning, August 4, 2023, we’ll know for sure where the upcoming punishment trial for Amber McDaniel for the felony charges of endangering a child and tampering with evidence will be taking place.
McDaniel’s defense attorney filed a motion to move her punishment trial out of Wichita County, something that both McDaniel and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office agreed to when she pleaded guilty to the charges against her in April 2023.
Right now, McDaniel’s punishment trial is set to get underway on Monday, September 11, 2023, and in all likelihood, the case will be transferred to Tarrant County, where James Staley was convicted of Wilder’s murder back in March 2023.
The third-degree felony offense of tampering with evidence has a punishment range of 2 to 10 years in a penitentiary, and the state jail felony offense of endangering a child carries a potential punishment of 6 to 24 months in state jail.
McDaniel is eligible for probation on both charges. However, Officials with the District Attorney’s Office said there is no plea agreement in place between McDaniel and the state and that a jury will determine the punishment in this case.
Another venue change motion will be addressed on Friday, August 4, 2023, also in the home of the 30th District Court; that of Corey Trumbull, charged with capital murder after the body of 11-year-old Logan Cline was discovered in an abandoned car more than three years ago.
On Friday at 1:30 p.m., a hearing is set to determine if Trumbull’s capital murder trial will be heard in Wichita County or moved somewhere else.
Trumbull’s trial is set to begin in just a few weeks, on August 21, pending Friday’s ruling.
Three jury trials set to begin at the same time
On Monday, August 7, 2023, the 30th, the 78th, and the 89th District Courts all have jury trials set to get underway involving a defendant charged with murder.
On Monday, August 7, 2023, in the 89th District Court, Clinton Thompson is set for a retrial on a charge of aggravated assault stemming from an alleged road rage incident that occurred in 2017.
Thompson, who still has a pending murder charge in connection to the fatal shooting of Rockey Buckley in 2012, was tried for the same charge last May, but a mistrial was ultimately declared after the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
Thompson will again face a jury of his peers after he was accused of pulling a gun and threatening the driver of a truck Thompson said was following and tailgating him in 2017.
Thompson still has charges pending in connection to the murder of 32-year-old Rocky Buckley stemming from a 2012 fatal shooting outside of a residence on Karla Street. A pre-trial hearing that was originally scheduled to take place on July 6, 2023, in the 89th District Court, was canceled. A new trial date on this charge has not yet been set.
Also on Monday, August 7, just down the hall in the 78th District Court, the capital murder trial of Zaeveion Denson is set to get underway.
Denson is one of four defendants charged in the shooting death of 65-year-old Carolyn High after her body was found lying in a driveway in January 2020.
Of the four then-teenagers charged with High’s murder, Denson is the first to face a judge and jury in the case. The remaining three defendants, Shaundre Ransom, Shane Diaz, and Jiovani Morales, have a pre-trial hearing set to be held on August 25, 2023.
Also on Monday, August 7, in the 30th District Court, the first murder trial for a fentanyl-related death in Wichita County is also set to begin on Monday.
Jacinto Jimenez is charged with capital murder after police said he sold a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl that was later ingested by 21-year-old Andres Diaz, which ultimately lead to his tragic death in July 2022.
Patterson hearing closes out a busy August
The Courthouse’s jam-packed August ends in the 78th District Court, where a motion to change the venue of Anthony Patterson’s upcoming trial for trafficking and sex crimes against children.
Patterson’s defense team filed a 66-page motion and a nearly 900-page appendix, requesting the trial be moved outside of Wichita County to nearby Collin County. During a hearing in July 2023, prosecutors said they likely won’t fight a venue change.
As of right now, his trial is set to begin the day before Halloween, on October 30, 2023, but that date may be pushed back if a new venue is granted by Judge Meredith Kennedy.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.