McDaniel made his first court appearance on the murder charge Monday. He is also charged with child abuse in that case because a 14-year-old boy got hurt in the deadly crash. McDaniel is facing a child endangerment charge as well for another chase in a stolen car -- with the same teenager as his passenger.
Walter McDaniel showed no signs of injury in court Monday, five days after the crash in which he's accused of killing 55-year-old Earnest Grant. Police say McDaniel was driving under the influence, running from police, and accompanied by a teenage boy -- all familiar themes in McDaniel's life.
Prosecutors charged McDaniel with murder.
"For a conviction of murder you have to have the intent to kill somebody, so what they're doing is transferring that intent of escaping the police to killing someone," said Action News legal analyst Tony Capozzi.
Capozzi says it would be easier to get a murder conviction if McDaniel had been previously convicted of DUI. He has a pending case in Madera County. Capozzi says that case and the rest of McDaniel's extensive criminal history could carry weight in the final verdict.
McDaniel was not charged in connection with the disappearance of a 10-year-old boy found with him in this van last month. Like the car he drove in last week's crash, the van was reported stolen from Automaxx.
McDaniel is facing felony charges in connection with another police chase in November. Action News was there when police arrested him in a car with a teenage passenger -- the same boy injured in last week's crash.Capozzi says that type of history could convince a jury to convict him of murder.
"He runs the race with the police car," Capozzi said. "He knows people's lives are going to be in danger. They're taking that intent to his knowledge of what he can do with that dangerous activity and that is, killing somebody."
McDaniel didn't actually enter a plea Monday. He is due back in court in a week to answer to the murder charges.