FORT WORTH (KFDX/KJTL) — More than four years after the tragic death of 2-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel, the process of selecting a jury for the trial of the man accused of his murder is now underway.
According to documents from Tarrant County’s Criminal District Court 3, a panel of prospective jurors was scheduled to assemble on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, in the Jury Room of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Forth Worth.
The preliminary meeting of the jury panel marks the beginning stages of the trial of 40-year-old James Irven Staley, III, who is charged with capital murder and felony murder related to the 2018 death of Jason Wilder McDaniel at his residence on Irving Place in Wichita Falls.
Potential jurors meet in Fort Worth
Judge Everett Young, the presiding judge over the capital murder trial, said in a hearing earlier this month that Wednesday’s hearing was intended to be brief.
According to Judge Young, the purpose of the hearing is for giving potential jurors instructions and distributing preliminary questionnaires to the pool of about 80 people prior to the beginning of voir dire on Thursday, February 23, 2023.
In a hearing held on Thursday, February 9, 2023, final preparations were made for the questionnaire that will be distributed to all potential jurors ahead of voir dire proceedings.
During voir dire, the preliminary examinations of potential witnesses and jurors, counsel will narrow down the jury pool to 12 fair and impartial people to serve as the trial’s jury for the duration of proceedings.
State, defense each file motion in limine
According to court documents, the State of Texas, represented by Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie and special prosecutor Eric Nickols, filed a motion in limine on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, asking the Court to instruct to refer to the victim only as “Jason Wilder McDaniel” or “a child under 10 years of age.”
The State contends that referring to McDaniel as a two-year-old, a toddler, a baby, a small child, or any other words referring to McDaniel’s age at the time of his death would introduce facts of the case before a jury is vetted and selected.
Staley’s defense attorneys, Mark Daniel and Terri Moore, also filed a motion in limine on Tuesday to exclude forensic analysis and opinions stated by witnesses that aren’t qualified to do so.
The defense contends several witnesses will seek to offer evidence and opinions that they are not qualified to offer, and those witnesses who are not licensed by the Texas Forensic Science Commission are by law prohibited from offering such opinions.
The defense said this includes law enforcement officials testifying in regard to results of “presumptive tests” conducted at the scene of an alleged crime.
Testimony begins Monday, February 27
Testimony is set to begin on Monday, February 27, 2023, two days after what would’ve been Wilder McDaniel’s seventh birthday.
According to court documents, the State has filed a list of individuals that could potentially be called to testify during the trial. The State’s witness pool contains over 350 potential witnesses, with over 100 of those designated as experts.
It was announced in a hearing earlier this month that Wilder’s mother, Amber McDaniel, will testify in Staley’s trial. Officials said there is no plea offer or deal on the table to address Amber McDaniel’s charges of abandoning or endangering a child or tampering with evidence in connection to Wilder’s death, but officials said they anticipate she will be cooperative.
Trial updates live from Fort Worth
KFDX, KJTL, and Texoma’s Homepage will be in the gallery of the courtroom at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth beginning when testimony gets underway on Monday until the trial reaches its conclusion.
Digital Reporter Josh Hoggard will be on the scene for the duration of the trial, bringing you updates every day on-air on KFDX and KJTL, and the latest updates online at Texoma’s Homepage and on social media.
At this time, there are no plans in place to stream the trial proceedings by the court, and it is unclear if cameras or video recordings of any kind will be permitted inside the courtroom for the duration of the trial.
This is a developing story. For the latest on the trial of James Staley, accused of the murder of 2-year-old Wilder McDaniel, stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates.