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New defense lawyer retained in James Staley’s appeal of conviction for Wilder’s murder

A renowned defense attorney has been retained — not court-appointed — to represent James Irven Staley III in the appeal of his murder conviction for the killing of 2-year-old Jason Wilder McDaniel in Wichita Falls, court records show.

Keith S. Hampton of Austin has notably gotten clients exonerated on appeal and clemency granted for at least one who was on death row.

In August, Hampton filed a notice that he was retained to be the lead counsel in Staley’s appeals case.

He has been filing various documents since, including requests for more time to file a brief detailing the basis for Staley’s appeal. The brief is now due Oct. 23.

Taxpayers do not pick up the tab for an attorney who is retained, but Wichita County taxpayers are footing the bill for Staley’s court-appointed attorney, J. Warren St. John.

He is still listed as a defense lawyer on Staley’s case in the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. While no documents have been filed in reference to St. John withdrawing from the case, it is likely he will not take part in Staley’s representation since Hampton has been retained.

It was not clear Tuesday how Hampton is being compensated for representing Staley, 40. He and St. John did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.

With Staley’s resources drained by the cost of his murder trial and his business stalling, the once wealthy oilman was found to be indigent by Senior District Judge Everett Young on March 15 at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth.

Appeals attorney Keith Hampton answers questions Nov. 6, 2019, from reporters at the Williamson County Justice Center about Greg Kelley's exoneration. Kelley was accused in 2013 of sexually assaulting two 4-year-old boys at an in-home daycare site operated by a friend's family in Cedar Park. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

A jury found Staley guilty March 13 of capital murder of a child under 10. Young quickly handed down Staley’s automatic sentence of life without parole that day.

Before deputies led him away in handcuffs, Staley told onlookers

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