“The State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff vs. Manuel Daniel, Jr., Defendant” murder trial of Melissa Bost continued yesterday with opening statements made by both the Plaintiff and Defendant attorneys, before moving onto witness testimonies, Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Jackson County Courthouse. Judge Richard Darby explicitly stated, punishment of death is not an option in this case. Potential punishments are life imprisonment, or life without parole.
In the State’s opening statement, Attorney David Thomas, said that Bost had a history of dealing crack cocaine and some prostitution, and that the night before she was discovered dead had acquired drugs from a dealer before making several deliveries to other buyers. Thomas stated that phone records show the defendant made over 10 phone calls to Bost between midnight and 2:53 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2012. Thomas also said that the defendant’s story changed through three interviews with Altus Police Department detectives, that the defendant was going to court in Frederick on Feb. 28, 2012, for possession charges, facing incarceration, and wanted to get high “one last time”. Thomas added that APD detectives and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations found areas in the defendant’s residence showing a chemical reaction to luminol, an agent that reacts to blood or other iron-based substances, (mainly in the bedroom) including the floor, walls, and ceiling, and said that the defendant cleaned his residence on Feb. 28, and cut out a large portion of carpet from the bedroom and kitchen.
Also in opening statements, Thomas said that a convicted felon was going to testify to sharing a cell with the defendant at Jackson County Jail, when the defendant allegedly made a confession about having murdered Bost. He also said that a witness will testify having been present in the defendant’s resident engaged in a physical altercation with Bost and was struggling, so the Defendant interfered and attacked Bost. Thomas said that the victim’s fingernail broke off while defending herself from an attack, and was later found by detectives among the contents of the defendant’s vacuum cleaner. He added that on Aug. 4, 2011, Bost was driving her car with the defendant and was pulled over in Tilman in route to Altus, both having active outstanding warrants and drugs in the car. She was then charged with driving on a suspended license and was free to go, and that the defendant was charged with possession with attempt to distribute and was arrested; and that the defendant was upset that he was going to prison, and Bost had “escaped.”
“We believe that after all the evidence is submitted to you, that you will have before you a motive for Manuel Daniel, Jr., to have murdered Melissa Bost,” Thomas said to the jury. “Actually we submit to you that the evidence is going to show you two motives: one, that of a crazed crackhead who is ‘jonesing’ for another hit, some more dope, and that he’ll do anything to get it, that he know’s he’s going to jail, that he doesn’t care, that he’s going to take it anyway he can.” And secondly, because the defendant was resentful that he was charged with possession with attempt to distribute.
In the Defendant’s opening statement, Attorney Perry Hudson stated that the defendant and Bost were friends, and that Bost had been at the defendant’s residence many times, and there was no “animosity” between them. Hudson said that not only had Bost been the defendant’s drug supplier, but they also enjoyed doing drugs together, and on occasion had a physical relationship and slept together, aside from prostitution. Hudson said that the defendant was in contact with Bost on Feb. 27, 2012, and everything was fine, that they had talked on the phone, that she had ran an errand before returning home, and that after, he was unable to reach her and that her phone was turned off.
“Her body is discovered the next day,” Hudson said. “At the moment her body is discovered there are a potential list of suspects a mile long… because of Mrs. Bost’s lifestyle.” Hudson stated that Bost has been threatened by someone other than the defendant. Bost had allegedly “shorted” her drug dealer and was in debt to them, and was possibly going to be “cut-off,” and that Bost threatened to turn them into the police. Hudson said that someone in the County Jail told multiple people that he killed Bost accidentally. “And on and on and on, for all potential suspects, everyone she sold drugs to, and everyone that she slept with,” Hudson said. “There was a guy that owed her money for prostitution, and he had to pay her or she threatened to tell his wife he had gone back to using drugs.”
Hudson told the jury that Bost’s husband supplied APD with phone records that show Manuel Daniel calling Bost’s phone thus becoming the primary suspect. “From that moment on you have good detectives, that for whatever reason, put on blinders and have tunnel vision, and the evidence will support that.” APD and OSBI investigated the defendants home and used luminol believing to see a reaction to blood, but luminol also reacts to pet urine, cleaning agents, and certain vegetable agents. “All luminol tells you is that there is iron present,” Hudson said. After OSBI sent swabs and portions of carpet for testing, there was no blood or DNA found, except the victim’s fingernail that could have been there for a long time. There was nothing that matched Daniel in the victim’s car.
“The evidence will suggest to you that we’ve got a problem because we have a woman who bled approximately six liters of blood out into a house that’s probably no bigger than the well of this courtroom, and there’s not one drop of physical evidence that suggests that occurred,” Husdon said.
Hudson also stated that evidence will show that the Daniel’s cellmate was willing to help APD only if they were able to help him. Hudson said that APD lied to the other witness during an interview and said they had found their DNA at Daniel’s residence, that Daniel is blaming them for killing Bost, eliciting the witness to testify against Daniel.
After a lunch recess, the jury heard six separate witness testimonies that included a woman who found Bost’s car in an alley behind her home, and also the officer who was the first to arrive at the scene.
Anthony Bost, the victim’s husband, testified on the hours he last saw his wife, interviews he had with Altus Police, and providing a phone record of Melissa Bost’s phone. Anthony spoke about the “tremendous pride,” his wife had keeping long and manicured fingernails. Anthony said he stopped by Daniel’s house on the Feb. 28, to ask if Daniel had seen his wife. Anthony said Daniel looked a bit wired and nervous but showed no emotion that Melissa was missing.
Melissa Bost’s daughter told the jury about her mother’s obsessiveness of keeping long and well manicured fingernails, and also said it was normal for her mom to “disappear” for a few hours at a time, but someone could always reach her.
Later, a Drug Task Force agent testified for the contents of Bost’s purse, and estimated $350 in crack cocaine was found in her purse when taken from Bost’s home.
The longest witness testimony was with the senior detective from Altus Police Department who said he oversaw the case. The detective was asked about the multiple interviews with the defendant, and other possible suspects, as well as the investigation with OSBI agents at Daniel’s residence. During this time, the State submitted photograph exhibits taken by APD during interviews on Feb. 29, 2012, that showed various gouges, scratches, abrasions and bruises on the defendant hands and wrists, forearms, chest, and knees. In the interview, Daniel said he had gotten those marks from doing a roofing job in Blair. His alibi was confirmed, but offered no specific details on how the roofing shingles contacted his body.
More witnesses are to testify today as the trial continues. The trail is expected to last into late next week.