Woman Sentenced to 25 Years for Killing Husband

By: Julie Montanaro, James Buechele Email
By: Julie Montanaro, James Buechele Email

UPDATE 2-21-2012

A Tallahassee woman convicted of killing her husband ... is now headed to prison for it.

Lei McDaniel was sentenced this afternoon

In December, a jury found Lei McDaniel guilty of second degree murder.

She stabbed her husband, Roosevelt Ealey. McDaniel had claimed self defense, but a jury disagreed.

During her sentencing hearing at the Leon County Courthouse, emotional testimony caused the judge in the case to call for a recess.

Finally, the judge handed down the sentence of 25 years in prison. McDaniel has served 846 days in prison that will go towards her sentence.

Gwen McDaniel, Lei's mother, says, "This is not good for none of us. We love her and we want her to be free. Thank you."

"I ask you for mercy. Compassion, not vengeance because she is a productive soul."

Some of the most emotional testimony came today from Ealey's sister Angela Harris.

"Now a piece of my heart is forever broken and it can never be repaired," said Harris.

Harris had to stop several times during Tuesday's sentencing phase. After her testimony, there was a quick five minute recess for everyone in the courtroom to compose themselves.

"I will forever be haunted by the images of all that blood and all those stab wounds."


UPDATE 2-21-2012

Lei McDaniel, guilty of second degree murder, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.


UPDATED 12.2.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A jury deliberated for seven hours before reaching a verdict in the murder trial of Lei McDaniel.

It came back at about 11 o'clock last night. It found McDaniel guilty of second degree murder, not first. Court records show jurors decided the stabbing of Roosevelt Ealey was not premeditated.

Sentencing is set for January 17, 2012.

We are trying to reach attorneys on both sides for comment this morning.

UPDATE 12-1-2011

The jury started deliberating just before four o'clock this afternoon in the murder trial of Lei McDaniel.


UPDATED 11.30.2011

The state has rested its case.

Lei McDaniel took the stand late this afternoon.
UPDATED 11.30.2011 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

Dexter Ealey could not believe his eyes. He ran upstairs to find his brother Roosevelt Ealey gasping for breath on the tile floor.

"When I ran upstairs, I seen my brother lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom," he testified. "At that time I looked at her (McDaniel) and said "you killed my brother."

Roosevelt Ealey was killed in the couple's home on Compass Lane back in October 2009.

31 year old Lei McDaniel is accused of stabbing Ealey seven times. Yet her attorneys claim it was self defense from a woman who was tired of being beaten by her new husband.

"He told her, 'You're not going anywhere.' Then you'll hear how the blows started coming. You'll hear how Miss McDaniel wondered if that night was going to be the last night of her life," defense attorney Elizabeth Peskin told the jury in her opening statement.

Agnes Sampson is Dexter Ealey's girlfriend. She called 911 that night. She says McDaniel didn't call out for help and didn't try to get away.

"She just looked. She just looked. She said I didn't mean to do it."

The first police officer on scene was now-retired TPD officer Sherry Tatum. She says when she got there Roosevelt Ealey still had a faint pulse and she heard several "death gurgles."

Tatum said there was so much blood in the bathroom that it soaked through her socks.

Tatum testified that McDaniel kept saying 'Look at my jaw' and claimed she had a broken jaw, but the officer said she couldn't see anything wrong.

Tatum said McDaniel said this happened "one time too many. She had had enough."

Testimony will continue tomorrow and could wrap up by Friday.

[UPDATE] November 30, 2011 - Noon -

Lei McDaniel is accused of stabbing her husband Roosevelt Ealey seven times.

He was stabbed to death in the upstairs bathroom of the couple's home on Compass Lane back in October 2009.

Defense attorneys claim McDaniel was a happy newlywed of just a few a months and then the violence started. They claim Ealey repeatedly beat her.

The defense attorney claimed McDaniel was trying to leave that night and Ealey stopped her.

Prosecutors paint a much different picture. They argue there were four other people home that night who heard Roosevelt Ealey begging for help but never heard McDaniel cry out for help or try to leave.


Updated 9:50am

The victim's brother Dexter Ealey was the first witness on the stand.

He says the couple started drinking at 8:30 or 9 that morning.

He says Lei McDaniel came down that evening and said Roosevelt Ealey had "cut her."

He says she came downstairs about 45 minutes later in just her underwear. He says he asked his girlfriend to take her upstairs and help her get some clothes on. He says his girlfriend then called him upstairs.

"I see my brother lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom," Dexter Ealey said.

Ealey says he rolled his brother over and tried to check his pulse. He says the blood had started to clot but he heard two gasps and thought there was a chance his brother was still alive.

He says McDaniel jumped on his back and kept saying "my husband needs me."

Ealey says they called 911 three times and says it was 30 minutes before help arrived.


November 30, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

A jury is now seated in the jury box in courtroom 3A. Lei McDaniel is on trial for first degree murder in the 2009 stabbing of her husband Roosevelt Ealey.

"Their dysfunctional marriage came to a criminal end," prosecutor Jack Campbell told the jury.

Campbell said McDaniel stabbed Ealey seven times that night.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Peskin claims McDaniel was defending herself. She said McDaniel endured many beatings by Ealey and when she tried to leave that night he told her,"You're not going anywhere."

Defense attorneys say McDaniel grabbed a knife to defend herself. They say Ealey collected knives and there were several in the room.

Prosecutors claim four other family members and friends were there that night but were not initially alarmed by the couple's arguing because it was not uncommon.


October 11, 2011 10am

A judge declared a mistrial in the Lei McDaniel murder trial before the first witness ever took the stand.

One juror says she realized she knew one of McDaniel's family members from playing softball and is currently a Facebook friend with her.

Another juror says a man who was his student at one time came up and hugged him in front of the other jurors as they waited in the courthouse lobby. It turns out the man was related to McDaniel.

The state moved to strike the jury panel and the judge declared a mistrial. The case is now set to go to trial on November 28.


UPDATED 10.10.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A jury was chosen today in the murder trial of Lei McDaniel.

McDaniel is stabbing her husband to death during an argument at their Compass Lane home back in October 2009.

Opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow morning.

There are 12 jurors and two alternates ready to hear evidence in the case.

Updated 3:10p.m 12-11

A Leon County grand jury had indicted Lei McDaniel for first degree murder.
A new Leon County grand Jury is being sworn in Friday.

Jurors filed into courtroom 3-C this morning. Their first order of business? To decide whether there is enough evidence to indict a Tallahassee woman for murder.

Lei McDaniel was arrested in October and accused of stabbing her husband, Roosevelt Ealey more than five times.

Police found Ealey in a pool of blood at the couple's Compass Lane home. They say McDaniel claimed Ealey had physically abused her one too many times.

Grand jurors are expected to decide later today whether McDaniel should be indicted for murder or not.

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