DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — During a taped interview hours after Joe Clyde Daniels was reported missing, the boy’s father, Joseph Daniels was questioned about inconsistencies in his accounts of what happened.
Day three of the trial for Joseph Daniels began Saturday morning with testimony from Sarah McCartney, a detective with the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office.
McCartney read out loud for the courtroom a transcript of a recorded conversation, as she and another detective drove around with Joseph Daniels on the morning of April 4, 2018, looking for the missing boy.
Joseph Daniels had called 911 that morning to report his five-year-old son Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe,” had “escaped” from their Dickson County home and could not be located.
This is an excerpt of the hour-long recorded conversation, read out loud by McCartney:
DANIELS: “I know when I got woke up in the middle of the night that he had peed on the floor, but I didn’t spank him, *inaudible* him, scream at him or anything, I just went back to bed.”
MCCARTNEY: “Is there something that you’re wanting to tell us, an accident?”
DANIELS: “Nothing happened that I know of. No one screamed at him. No one yelled at him. Nobody did anything to him. you know, just let him go to sleep as normal.”
McCartney also testified that surveillance video pointed in the direction of the Daniels’ home showed Joseph Daniels’ vehicle leave his residence around 6:15 a.m. on April 4, 2018 prior to his 911 call, then return home around 6:25 a.m. around the time that call was made.
She said video retrieved from Bethany Retreat House around 7:52 a.m. that morning showed Joseph Daniels’ vehicle driving south from his residence in the direction of the the Love’s Truck Stop, where during his confession, he admitted to driving with his son’s body in the trunk of his car, prior to throwing the five-year-old’s body over a bridge into the water.
Joseph Daniels returned home around 9:19 a.m. and said he had gone searching for Joe Clyde, according to McCartney.
Another excerpt of the recorded interview was also discussed, as the defense questioned Detective McCartney about what was found inside the Daniels’ home.
DEFENSE: “How long do you think you were in that house?”
MCCARTNEY: “Um, from my initial response to the first time I left the house?”
MCCARTNEY: “Probably two hours.”
DEFENSE: “Did you see any blood?”
MCCARTNEY: “I did not.”
DEFENSE: “Did you see anything broken? I mean, obviously there’s a lot of stuff around the house but…”
MCCARTNEY: “I um, I did see lots of holes in the walls. I can’t tell you if anything was broken in the house. I don’t remember seeing anything else broken necessarily.”
While McCartney was on the stand, a three-minute clip of body camera video from Dickson County Sgt. Daniel Baker was played showing the responding deputy’s interaction with Joseph and Krystal Daniels. Baker could not testify, as he was murdered less than two months later.
No audio was played from the body camera video.
At one point, District Attorney Ray Crouch referred to comments made by Jake Lockert, the attorney for Joseph Daniels, as “misleading.” The judge instructed the jury to disregard any claims from either side that the opposing side was making “misleading” comments and said those claims should be reserved for closing statements.
Steven Kennard, a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation testified that he and another agent went to the Daniels’ residence on the night of April 4, 2018 to speak with the parents. The interview, which was recorded, was “voluntary” and Joseph Daniels allowed the agents into his home, according to Kennard.
During the lengthy interview with TBI agents, Joseph Daniels discussed waking up that morning and noticing that Joe Clyde was missing.
DANIELS: “At 5:30, I woke up and I went to the bedroom back there. I got his clothes out and Alex’s clothes out for them to go to school. I went, I noticed something weird was going on because the, the coffee table that sits in the living room was pointed toward the two doors to the room that they were sleeping in and I walked in and he wasn’t there.”
One of the TBI agents asked if Joseph Daniels believed something had happened to his son.
AGENT: “Do you have any reason to believe, anything at all, any reason to believe that something’s happened to him, as opposed to him just getting out of this door?”
DANIELS: “I don’t know. I don’t know. There was a guy, um, one of the police officers I was talking to, I’d asked him if he’s heard anything that’s been out of the ordinary. He said there was a witness who came up that they stopped, or he stopped, and said that he saw a boy in the yard in the middle of the night walking along the yard. Wouldn’t you find it odd if this person told you that this was something that was ordinary in the middle of the night?”
DANIELS: “It sounds like to me that whoever that person is knows where he’s at. That’s just my take on it because no would say oh it’s normal for a four– five-year-old child to be out in the middle of the night. Is that normal? That’s not normal.”
DANIELS: “He could’ve at least stopped and come up to the house with him and knocked on the door and say ‘hey do you know who this is?'”
At the end of the interview, one of the TBI agents informed Joseph Daniels that several facts had changed since his interview earlier in the day.
AGENT: “The change that was important for me was this morning you told me… you started to go towards the boys’ bedroom, that you saw the coffee table being not in the same position that it was, earlier…”
AGENT: “…that you immediately looked at the door to see if the lock was on it. Just a minute ago, you said you never looked at the door. So which one, which one is it?”
DANIELS: “Trying, trying to remember exactly … yeah, that’s right. First, what I told you this morning was correct. I apologize, there’s been so much going on. There’s been so many police officers here…”
The agent also brought up another inconsistency regarding times that Joseph Daniels had provided for when his children came inside the day before.
AGENT: “Do you understand why I’m kinda curious as to why the stories change? Why I get good information and completely different information…?”
DANIELS: “Yeah, yeah, I understand that, I just, I just want him to be found.”
During a four-hour confession, Joseph Daniels admitted to fatally beating Joe Clyde on the coffee table, then disposing of his body in a remote area. The confession was later recanted as the defense said it was coerced, but a judge determined it could be used as evidence during the trial.
Joseph Daniels faces five charges, including first-degree murder and evidence tampering. He is being jailed in Dickson County during the duration of the trial.
Day four of the trial for Joseph Daniels is expected to begin Monday at 8 a.m. and wrap up around 5 p.m. The trial began Thursday afternoon and is scheduled to last for two weeks.
The jury, made up of 12 jurors and four alternates, was selected Wednesday from Chattanooga. Those jurors include ten women and six men.
Joseph Daniels’ wife, Krystal witnessed the fatal beating of Joe Clyde, 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.