McDaniel was convicted in 2006 in McDonald County Circuit Court with the 2001 murder of Kendace DeCarlo in Newton County. The case was moved to McDonald County on a change of venue.
The court rejected McDaniel's claim that his statement to police should have been tossed and that Judge Kevin Selby should not have allowed testimony concerning McDaniel's gang membership. The opinion gives the following summary of McDaniel's crime:
Brian McDaniel (defendant) was convicted, following a jury trial, of murder in the first degree. Section 565.020.(FN1) This court affirms.
On July 3, 2001, the body of Kendace DeCarlo was found at her residence in Newton County. She had sustained two gunshot wounds to the head. An autopsy determined the cause of death as "massive brain trauma secondary to gunshot wound." The police officer who responded to the scene, Officer Allen, found three unused rounds of RP .380 cartridges on the front porch. He found two RP .380 shell casings on the porch just outside the front door near the victim's body.
Detective Jimmy Wallace, an officer with the Joplin Police Department, contacted Val Moss, Brad Moss, and Michael Wheeler. Detective Wallace was told that the three of them had come to the Moss residence that was located near the victim's residence about 9:45 the night of the shooting; that a white car was parked in front of the Moss residence when they arrived. A black male was seated in the driver's seat. They saw another black male run down an alley and get in the car.
Detective Wallace developed photo lineups for the three witnesses to view. All three witnesses identified defendant from one of the photo lineups as one of the persons they saw near the Moss residence the evening of the murder. They also identified a picture of a white Saturn rental car to which defendant had access as being very similar to, if not the same as, the car they saw at the Moss residence. The three witnesses identified a picture of Don Overton from another photo lineup as the other person they saw the night of the murder.
In July 2002, Detective Wallace went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where defendant lived. He was present when a search warrant was executed at defendant's apartment. The officers executing the search warrant seized a box of .380 ammunition. It was not a full box and contained different brands of ammunition. RP was the dominant brand.
Defendant told the officers that he was an ex-boyfriend of the victim; that his intentions had been to get back with her. Defendant said at the time of the murder he had been "out dealing dope that night, in and out of his apartment." He told the officers that about a week and a half before the murder, he learned the victim "was not only cheating on him, but that she was selling her new lover's dope along with his dope." Defendant told the officers that during his relationship with the victim, she had sold his dope; that he believed she was murdered because of her dope dealing and her relationship with her new boyfriend.
Israel Ward had known defendant since the early 1990s. At the time of the trial of this case, Ward was in federal custody after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. His sentencing was pending. He had pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement. The plea agreement provided for a recommendation of a 15-year sentence. One of the terms of the plea agreement was that Ward would cooperate with any federal, state, or local government in prosecuting a crime about which he had knowledge.
Ward told the jury about business dealings he had with defendant involving "[d]rug distribution." He said defendant was upset with the victim because of her relationship with a new boyfriend; that defendant told Ward defendant was going to get Donald Overton to kill her. Ward said defendant told him that a .380 semi-automatic handgun would be used because it "was a throw away, a gun that was untraceable to anybody." Ward said defendant had shown him the gun. Ward talked to defendant after the victim had been killed. Ward told the judge and jury, "[H]e let me know that it had been handled, and that Overton had pulled the trigger."