DICKSON COUNTY, Tennessee (WKRN) – The prosecution and defense made their case on day one of the trial of Joseph Daniels, the Dickson County man accused of killing his five-year-old son Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe”. “
Ahead of the opening statements, Dickson County Circuit Court Judge David Wolfe revealed that none of the 12 jurors or four selected alternates in Chattanooga had ever heard of “Baby Joe” or the case against his father.
District Attorney Ray Crouch first presented the state’s case against Joseph Daniels, saying the suspect’s more than four hour confession detailed how he slammed his five-year-old son’s body onto a table bass after the boy, described as “developmentally disabled,” urinated on the floor of a bedroom.
Crouch said Joseph Daniels admitted to placing Joe Clyde’s body in the trunk of his car and going to a truck stop about nine miles away, where he dumped the body of the child of a bridge in the water. Joe Clyde’s body has never been found.
The prosecution said Joseph Daniels didn’t believe Joe Clyde was his biological son, called him “that boy” and knew his wife, Krystal Daniels, was cheating on him. The two were arguing the night Joe Clyde was allegedly killed, according to Crouch.
Jake Lockert, the public defender representing Joseph Daniels, reinforced his claim that his client’s confession to beating his son to death was forced.
Lockert said that Joseph Daniels, whom he described as “mentally ill”, was basically told “we’re not going to stop until you tell us what we want to hear”, and finally , he admitted he beat Joe Clyde for 15 to 20 minutes. in the living room, killing him.
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Joe Clyde’s blood was not found in the family’s living room and the residence had not been professionally cleaned, according to Lockert.
The first witness, Jessica Donnerstag, a speech therapist at Centennial Elementary who worked with Joe Clyde for about three years, said the boy was “a great student” who was “very energetic” and “made a lot of progress.”
Tony Longtin, a Dickson County school bus driver, was also called to the bar. A video was released showing Joe Clyde getting off the bus the day before he went missing. Longtin said he shuttled buses back and forth, bringing in volunteers to help with the search efforts.
Dispatcher Chelsea Lampley answered Joseph Daniels’ 911 call on April 4, 2018, when he reported his son missing and claimed he had escaped. She testified that at the time, she noticed that Joseph Daniels “appeared extremely calm” during the call.
After an hour-long hiatus, Deputy Nicholas Dearman, who was working for the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office at the time “Baby Joe” went missing, was called to the stand. Video from her body camera from the day was shown, as the deputy walked through the Daniels’ house interacting with Joseph and Krystal Daniels.
The trial will resume Friday at 9 a.m.
Joseph Daniels faces several charges, including first degree murder and tampering with evidence. He was jailed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, but will be held in Dickson County Jail during the trial.
Krystal Daniels, who is charged with gross child abuse and neglect, also remains in Dickson County Jail. She will be judged separately from her husband.
News 2 will broadcast the trial of Joseph Daniels live on WKRN.com. Josh Breslow will be joined by News 2 legal expert Grover Collins to provide trial analysis from opening statements to verdict.