Murder trial for ‘Baby Joe’ moves another step forward

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News 2 was the only crew in the Dickson County courtroom at the hearing with the child’s father Joseph Daniels.

DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The murder trial for 5-year-old Joe Clyde Daniels moved another step forward Friday.

The state and public defender agreed to no longer refer to the child as ‘Baby Joe’ in the trial, and Dickson County Circuit Court Judge David Wolfe denied the motion for a pretrial hearing regarding the father’s confession.

Public Defender Jake Lockert ultimately wanted the confession thrown out, saying even the state had concerns about whether his client killed the child, as they introduced evidence that ‘Baby Joe’ was killed by his mother. 

“In this case, if you recall, TBI Agent Faulkner at one point asks the defendant if he was remembering what he was telling them or if he was making it up something to that effect. The state, in the last motion that we had even introduced evidence that the wife killed the child in this case in the presence of the defendant and held a knife to hold him at bay,” Lockert explained to Judge Wolfe.

District Attorney Ray Crouch defended their decision to release that evidence, a recorded call from prison between Joseph Daniels and his father where Daniels pointed the finger at his wife, Krystal. 

“I put on that evidence to demonstrate that in all of his confessions and then this letter and phone call to his wife he again admits that Baby Joe was killed in the house,” said Crouch, “That evidence was put on to demonstrate that Baby Joe hasn’t escaped, that Baby Joe didn’t run away, that Baby Joe hasn’t been sold in sex trafficking. That evidence was put on to show that no matter what statement the defendant has ever given, rather it be confessing to the killing himself or blaming it on his wife that they all say Baby Joe died in that house.”

Judge Wolfe denied a motion for a pretrial hearing to solidify the trustworthiness and corroboration of the confession. He still has a lot of work to do ahead of the June trial. 

“We have to make sure this trial is ready to go and going forward on May 14,” he stated.

It’s the deadline for issuing jury summons, and in a high-profile case like this with a sequestered jury, you don’t want a mistrial.

Friday, Judge Wolfe agreed to limiting pre-trial publicity to ensure the murder trial is protected by undo prejudice, by reinstating the gag order.

Witnesses, attorneys, and investigators are no longer allowed to speak publicly on the murder case through the jury selection process, paneling of the jury, and sequester. 

Judge Wolfe worked with a judge outside of Dickson County to find the final 12 jurors.

“I think he’s going to issue a summons for some 250-300 individuals hoping to get as many as 150 lined up,” he said, adding that he is still working through logistics, like COVID restrictions, how the jury will be separated and where they will stay.

Joseph Daniels’ family was back in the courtroom Friday as well. The public defender told them that Daniels will be kept in Dickson now until the trial. The family inquired to visit Daniels following Friday’s hearing.

Three days of motion hearings are scheduled for next week. Joseph Daniels’ trial is set to begin June 1.

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