DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Joseph Daniels will serve life in prison with the possibility of parole after he was convicted of felony murder in the beating death of his five-year-old son, Joe Clyde.
A jury of 12 from Chattanooga reached a verdict just before noon Saturday following a weeklong trial in Dickson County.
They found the 31-year-old guilty of first-degree murder in perpetration of a felony, known as felony murder. The jury also convicted him on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, filing a false report, and evidence tampering.
The charge of felony murder carries a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole; however, Daniels will be sentenced on 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, where he was held for years, prior to his trial.
What happened to Baby Joe?
Daniels called 911 around 6:22 a.m. on the morning of April 4, 2018 and said his son, Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe,” had “escaped” from the family’s residence on Garners Creek Road in Dickson County.
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 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 reversible errors in the trial, and so [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.”
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 neglect and will go to trial at a date that has not been determined.