‘He threatened that he would kill me if I didn’t help:’ Brother of Baby Joe testifies at trial

Baby Joe

DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The eight-year-old half brother of Joe Clyde Daniels woke up to a loud bang the morning of April 4, 2018 and saw his stepfather, Joseph Daniels walk down the road carrying his little brother, the child testified Monday morning.

Alex Nolan, now eleven years old, took the stand on day four of the trial for Joseph Daniels, who is charged with the murder of his five-year-old son Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe.”

Joseph Daniels sits in the courtroom on Day 4 of his murder trial (Photo: WKRN)

During his testimony, Alex said that Joseph Daniels’ father and stepmother were out of town, so he and Joe Clyde slept in their bedroom.

When Joe Clyde urinated on the floor, Alex said he went to alert Joseph Daniels, who went into the bedroom and beat the five-year-old. Both siblings then went back to bed, according to Alex.

While attempting to explain what happened next, Alex became emotional, so the judge initiated a 15 minute recess.

Alex Nolan & Joseph Daniels (Photo: WKRN)

When court resumed, Alex explained that he woke up in the middle of the night to a loud bang that sounded like a thump. He said he stayed in the bedroom for a few minutes, but eventually walked into the living room and saw Joe Clyde on the ground.

The 11-year-old said he witnessed Joseph Daniels carry Joe Clyde out the back door of the residence, so Alex followed quietly.

When Alex got to the edge of the house, he said he saw Joseph Daniels place Joe Clyde on the ground, then get down on his knee and look around. Minutes later, Alex said Joseph Daniels saw him peeking around the corner and threatened to kill Alex if he did not “help him.”

ALEX: “He threatened that he would kill me if I didn’t help.”

PROSECUTOR: “He threatened to kill you?”

ALEX: “Yes.”

PROSECUTOR: “If you didn’t help him?”

ALEX: “Yes.”

PROSECUTOR: “Did you help him?”

ALEX: “Yes.”

PROSECUTOR: “What did you do?”

ALEX: “I tried to find something to do. I went over to the car. I opened the door and opened the trunk and I told him to do something. I don’t know what it was and I don’t know why he didn’t do it.”

PROSECUTOR: “You opened the door to the car.”

ALEX: “Yes.”

PROSECUTOR: “And you opened the trunk?”

ALEX: “Yes.”

Alex said Joseph Daniels told him to go back inside, but he hid and watched as his stepfather went down the driveway carrying Joe Clyde, then began walking down Garners Creek Road with the little boy in his arms.

When Alex woke up on the morning of April 4, 2018, he testified that Joseph Daniels told him that his brother had run away.

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A lengthy recorded interview with Alex from April 5, 2018 was then played for the courtroom.

During that conversation, Alex told Jessica Tiegert with the Child Advocacy Center that Joseph Daniels “calmly and quietly” entered the room after Joe Clyde urinated on the floor.

Tiegert then summarized what she was told by Alex: “He peed, you told daddy, daddy came in the room, and calmly and quietly told him to get back to bed and then later Little Joe woke up and you put him back to sleep by turning the TV and the noise off and then you went to sleep and then daddy woke you up and he was gone?”

After that video played, the defense cross-examined Alex, asking about the changes in his story, including initially stating that his mother, Krystal Daniels had entered the room at one point to make sure the children were tucked in.

DEFENSE: “Your testimony earlier today is that you’re lying right there?”

ALEX: “Not all the the way. I lied about the part where Krystal came in and tucked us in. She didn’t actually.”

DEFENSE: “She didn’t come in the room?

ALEX: “No. And the other part I was lying about is whenever I said he said it calmly. I was trying to protect him because I didn’t want him to get in trouble.”

DEFENSE: “When you testified earlier you said that you saw Joseph carrying Joe Clyde down the road, how long was he gone? Do you know?”

ALEX: “How long was he gone?”

DEFENSE: “Yeah.”

ALEX: “No, I don’t know. I went back into the house.”

DEFENSE: “When did you change your story?”

ALEX: “When did I change my story? Whenever I remembered. It was blocked off until a couple months ago.”

Baby Joe Clyde Daniels - Joseph Daniels
(Photos: WKRN/Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Joseph Daniels reported Joe Clyde missing on the morning of April 4, 2018 and said the boy had escaped from the family’s home. During a four-hour recorded confession, Joseph Daniels admitted to fatally beating his son, who had autism and was non-verbal.

Jake Lockert, the attorney representing Joseph Daniels has said the confession, which was later recanted, was coerced, but a judge determined it could be used as evidence during the trial.

The body of Joe Clyde Daniels has never been found.

Joseph and Krystal Daniels
Joseph and Krystal Daniels (Courtesy: Dickson County Sheriff’s Office)

The trial for Joseph Daniels, which started last Thursday afternoon, is scheduled to run for approximately two weeks. The jury was chosen from Chattanooga and all 12 jurors and four alternates had never heard the name “Baby Joe,” according to the judge.

Joseph Daniels faces five charges, including first-degree murder and evidence tampering. He was jailed in Nashville, but has been moved to the Dickson County jail during the duration of his trial.

His wife, Krystal Daniels 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 be tried separately from her husband.

News 2 will have live streaming coverage of Joseph Daniels’ trial at WKRN.com. Josh Breslow will be joined by News 2’s legal expert, Grover Collins to provide analysis on the trial from the opening statements to the verdict.

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