DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Joseph Daniels was convicted Saturday on charges of felony murder and second-degree murder for fatally beating his five-year-old son, Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe.”
The jury began deliberating around 2 p.m. Friday and returned the guilty verdict just before noon Saturday, following a weeklong trial in Dickson County.
Joseph Daniels murder trial verdict
The jury found Joseph Daniels guilty of five charges, including first-degree murder in perpetration of a felony, second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, filing a false report, and evidence tampering.
When is the sentencing hearing?
Joseph Daniels will serve life in prison with the possibility of parole on the felony murder charge. He will be sentenced for the additional charges during a hearing scheduled for Sept. 14 at 1 p.m.
He will be jailed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
What happened to ‘Baby Joe’?
Daniels called 911 around 6:22 a.m. on the morning of April 4, 2018 and said Joe Clyde had “escaped” from the family’s residence on Garners Creek Road.
Two days later, in a recorded interview with law enforcement, he confessed to the fatal beating of his son, who had autism and was non-verbal, after the five-year-old had urinated on the floor of a bedroom. He told investigators that he dumped Joe Clyde’s body in a rural area.
Multiple searches were conducted over the days, months and years that followed, but the child’s body has never been found.
Jake Lockert, the public defender representing Joseph Daniels, has argued that his client’s confession was coerced, but the judge allowed it to be played and used as evidence in the trial.
Following the verdict, Lockert spoke to News 2 and said, “I’m convinced the jury took their time to think through our defenses, but the bottom line is, when you keep getting confession after confession… it makes it a difficult case to defend.”
“We had a lot of reversable errors in the trial, and so [Joseph Daniels] has advised he wants to pursue an appeal, and he’ll file a motion for a new trial, and then after that, we’ll pursue his appeal,” Lockert added.
The jury consisted of 12 members and was chosen from a pool of people in Chattanooga, all of which the judge said had never heard the name “Baby Joe.”
Joseph Daniels’ wife, Krystal witnessed the fatal beating, but went to bed instead of helping her son, according to investigators.
She is charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect and will go to trial at a later date that has not been determined.