James Irven Staley III found guilty of murder of 2 year old Wilder McDaniel

James Irven Staley III found guilty of murder of 2-year-old Wilder McDaniel

James Irven Staley III was found guilty of murdering then two year-old Wilder McDaniel on Monday. A jury of seven men and five women deliberated less than three hours on March 13, 2023, in the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wilder McDaniel, son of professional mixed martial artist Bubba McDaniel and Amber McDaniel, was killed in 2018.

Staley was dating Amber after she separated from Bubba and left the child in his care.

Amber, 32, was previously charged with endangering a child in connection with Wilder and with tampering with cell phone evidence, according to court records.

Bubba McDaniel, who was not allowed in the courtroom, prepared a statement that was read to the court following his wife’s victim impact statement by Amanda Earley, a friend of his.

“I have so many thoughts in my head,” Earley read to the court. “The first one I think of is [that] I lost a two-year-old. I lost a two-year-old to a coward. A coward who thought that my son was to be a part of his vicious cycle. I’m not okay with that and I’ll never be okay with that.”

She continued to read the words of the child’s father to the courtroom.

“My son was two. He should’ve never known the fear you put in him. You can say you had this and you can say you had that. You can say things happened to you. People break cycles. People break cycles of abuse like that all the time. It takes a real piece of you-know-what to stay in that same cycle and abuse people that are smaller, tiny, and defenseless.”

The final words of Bubba McDaniel’s statement read by Earley to the courtroom echoed well after she was done reading them.

“I’ll be able to keep Wilder’s name alive” Earley read. “Every time they hear the Staley name, every time they think Staley, all they’ll think… Baby killer. Have fun dying alone in prison, as you should.”

After being found guilty of capital murder and automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, defendant Staley was remanded into the custody of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

Bubba McDaniel, who has 40 pro MMA fights, was a competitor on the Ultimate Fighter Season 17 before earning a contract with the promotion.  He also fought for Bellator MMA, and several other promotions, most recently with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

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