WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Following the conviction of James Irven Staley, III, for the capital murder of 2-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel in 2018, many residents of Wichita Falls have voiced their opinions regarding Wilder’s mother, Amber McDaniel.
Many who follow Texoma’s Homepage on Facebook have sounded off in the comments sections of numerous stories over the course of Staley’s capital murder trial, causing a number of heated debates regarding Amber McDaniel and whether or not she should face charges.
In fact, charges were brought against Amber McDaniel in 2021. She turned herself in on July 8, 2021, after she was charged with one count of endangering a child and one count of tampering with evidence. She posted her bond later the same day.
Although a trial date has yet to be set, McDaniel is currently on the docket to appear in court regarding these charges later this week.
McDaniel took the stand to testify in the capital murder trial of James Staley in Fort Worth on Monday, March 6, and Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
While on the witness stand in Auxiliary Trial Room A of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center, McDaniel testified several times that she was aware that her testimony was being given “at her own peril”, meaning prosecutors will be able to use anything and everything she said from the stand against her regarding her pending charges.
Despite having the ability to invoke her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify and incriminate herself, McDaniel testified that she “owed it to her son” to take the stand and testify against Staley.
McDaniel also testified that when she agreed to testify in Staley’s capital murder trial, she did so without any deal or bargain on the table from the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office regarding any lesser sentence for the charges against her. She testified numerous times during cross-examination that she was unsure of what she would do regarding her pending charges upon returning to Wichita Falls after the conclusion of Staley’s trial.
At one point, McDaniel testified that she wasn’t hoping that her charges would be dismissed because she chose to testify against Staley.
The charges against McDaniel stem from the more than 9,000 text messages between herself and McDaniel over the course of their brief yet volatile relationship in 2018, many of which were read in open court during the testimony phase of Staley’s capital murder trial.
It was disclosed during the trial that McDaniel had deleted those messages from her phone, partially when she performed a factory reset of the phone in the weeks prior to Wilder’s death, and partially when she deleted Staley’s contact information and all messages between herself and Staley in the days following Wilder’s death.
According to the affidavit for those charges, McDaniel had never previously disclosed the messages between her and Staley to investigators until she admitted it to officers from the Wichita Falls Police Department.
During the capital murder trial of Staley, Detective Chad Nelson with the Wichita Falls Police Department, who served as the lead investigator into Wilder’s death until May 2020, testified that during multiple interviews with McDaniel after Wilder’s death, she either showed him text messages sent from Staley or provided screenshots of messages from Staley.
The affidavit states that while the deleted messages show no violent messages from Amber about Wilder, “they show Amber ignoring or looking the other way regarding Staley’s expressed hatred and violence toward Wilder.”
The affidavit states the messages between Amber and Staley show that Staley’s comments of beating and punching Wilder were not isolated but were a long pattern of Staley telling Amber he was a threat to Wilder and would have caused any protective mother to protect her child by cutting off contact.
During McDaniel’s testimony on March 6 and 7, she addressed many of the “red flags” she ignored, stating from the stand that she “became numb to the constant barrage of insults from Staley” and stopped giving Staley any pushback to his negative statements because when she would, “Staley would make her feel crazy”.
During Prosecutor Lisa Tanner’s final line of questioning with McDaniel during Staley’s capital murder trial, she instructed McDaniel to read a line she said during an initial interview with police following Wilder’s death in 2018, in which McDaniel stated to officers, “I should have freaking known.”
Tanner said, “Truer words have never been spoken, have they?” McDaniel responded, “No”, with tears in her eyes.
Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for more continuing coverage following the conclusion of the capital murder trial of James Irven Staley, III.