Jurors found Manuel Daniel, Jr., guilty of first degree murder in the 2012 death of Melissa Bost. After hearing closing arguments on Thursday, Jan. 30, the jury began deliberation at 4 p.m. to take into account all the evidence submitted before presenting their findings shortly after 10 p.m. The jury recommended life imprisonment without parole. Formal sentencing will be held on March 4.
Council maintained that there was never any evidence found in Daniel’s home to prove Bost was murdered there, and that the detectives failed to investigate further into a long list of alternative suspects.
Daniel was first interviewed by Altus Police Department on Feb. 29, 2012, the day after Bost was found dead in her vehicle in an alley. Phone records of the victim’s phone showed Daniel called Bost’s phone numerous times on the night she was killed. Daniel told APD he hadn’t seen Bost that night, although he called her to get drugs and her phone went to voice mail. He said instead he just cleaned his house and watched a few videos before going to bed around 4 a.m.
Detectives photographed gouges on the back of Daniel’s right hand, scratches on his wrists, a bruise on his forearm, and abrasions on both knees. Daniel said his injuries occurred while doing a roofing job in Blair.
Daniel’s story changed in a second interview the same day with APD Detective Bill Perkins. Daniel told Perkins that he did actually get drugs that night, but not from Bost. Daniel was unable to identify who or where he got drugs that night to verify his claims.
Investigative efforts lead to a search of Daniel’s home on March 30, 2012, with APD detectives and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations. The front room carpet was visibly stained, as well as the middle room floor where carpet had been recently removed. OSBI sprayed luminol spray in the home and gathered swab samples from many locations in the house to test for blood and DNA, including the floor, walls, objects found on a night stand, as well as spots on the ceiling. Luminol indicated blood may have be present, or attempted to be removed with cleaning agents. OSBI lab tests resulted in “no blood detected” from presumptive testing, and “no DNA profile obtained.”
The luminol reaction drew attention to the bottom of the vacuum cleaner where a fingernail was discovered among its contents. DNA results concluded the fingernail belonged to the victim. Photos taken of the victim’s hands show that fingernails had broken off, presumably while fighting her attacker.
A young woman called Crime Stoppers the same day of the search, and testified in court to the suspicious behavior observed of Daniel around 10 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2012. Daniel was seen carrying boxes to a dumpster a block and a half away even though there was a dumpster directly behind his residence.
Daniel was brought in for a third interview with APD where his story had changed again. He said he had seen Bost earlier in the day on Feb. 27, 2012, but not that night. He also said he never got drugs as previously stated, but just went out to get cigarettes. When asked about the suspicious behavior observed by the witness he was unable to comment. When asked why blood was found in his residence he said, “it shouldn’t have been.”
Several witnesses testified in the case to Daniel’s behavior when craving crack cocaine, as well as their knowledge of his involvement with Bost’s murder. Also, a man who shared a prison cell at Jackson County Jail testified that Daniel had admitted to the murder.
The material witness in the case, Alicia Rosales, underwent two days of examination, testifying that she was at Daniel’s home and watched him and another man stab and beat Melissa Bost to death. Rosales said that the attack began in the front room. Bost apparently stopped screaming when another man hit her in the head twice with a bar and then was stabbed in the neck and face by Daniel. Bost started screaming, ran to the middle room, and continued to fight off Daniel. Bost then ran back into the front room, tried to exit through the front door, but was dragged back in by her hair and stabbed some more where she died. Although she lied to APD while being interviewed, she said she was telling the truth in court.
A Forensic Pathologist from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found over nine total wounds to the neck and face from sharp force trauma, as well as various blunt force traumas to the victim’s head, arms, elbow, thigh, knee and top of foot. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was due to sharp force trauma from a stab that severed the right carotid artery in the victim’s neck, and a stab wound that cut the left carotid sheath and entered the C-3 vertebrae of the spinal column, stating the manner of death was homicide.