Murder defendant Joseph Ray Daniels, 31, confessed in a lengthy, emotional interrogation that shows him first denying knowing the whereabouts of son Joe Clyde Daniels, 5, then saying he hit the child and placed his unresponsive body in a field, crossing the boy’s arms across his chest. But the boy was never found and he remains missing to this day. Meanwhile, the defense is asserting this alleged confession was coerced.
Joseph Ray Daniels reported the boy missing in Tennessee on April 4, 2018, claiming “Baby Joe” fled the home. The victim lived with autism.
As seen on video played for jurors on Tuesday, Agent Joey Boyd of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation maintained a pattern in which he appeared empathetic to the father but nonetheless insisted that Daniels knew what truly happened to the missing boy.
“I respect you for telling me the truth,” Boyd said. “I respect you for telling me the truth about you hitting him, beating him, becoming unresponsive in your house and dying, in your house. I respect you for telling me. I respect you for telling me that you put him in your car and you drove him. I do respect you for that. I’ll shake your hand because I respect you for being a man and for telling me the truth.” They shook hands.
Earlier in the interview, Daniels acknowledged getting mad at stepson Alex (who is Baby Joe’s half-brother and was then 8), and Baby Joe. He insisted that that the 5-year-old left the home in Dickson County, Tennessee alone.
“That boy is not as weak as people say,” Daniels said. “He is a strong boy.”
He admitted to spanking Baby Joe on the butt multiple times and claimed the boy ran off outside the home. He put the child back in bed while the boy was crying. Baby Joe got up and was laughing again.
As described by Boyd during direct examination, Daniels gave “several different iterations” on whether he was angry at Baby Joe for peeing on the floor that night, whether the defendant went straight back to sleep that night, where Daniels removed locks to the home, and so on.
Daniels said during the interrogation that he did not remember things when he got angry.
“My dad is going to kill me,” the defendant said, according to a transcript read by Boyd. “He’s going to kill me.”
During direct examination, Boyd construed Daniels’ questions during the interrogation as fishing for what Boyd knew.
“Alex is a witness, right?” Daniels said in a transcript read in court by the agent.
Alex testified on Monday that he witnessed his stepfather beat Baby Joe with a whip for peeing on the floor. He later heard a loud bang and found the child on the floor. Joseph Ray Daniels threatened to kill him if he did not help, said the witness, who is now 11 years old. Alex testified to his stepfather carrying Baby Joe away outside.
#JosephDaniels – Alex has given different accounts of what happened that night. He was 8 yrs old. He told investigators that the defendant told him he killed Baby Joe but now testifying saying Joseph never told him that. @LawCrimeNetwork
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) June 7, 2021
Jenny Jones testified on Tuesday that she was driving while returning from work as a bail bondswoman and saw Daniels standing by a bridge at about 1:30 a.m. that April 4, and she contacted law enforcement several days later when seeing Daniels on the news. Defense lawyer Jake Lockert tried to suggest during cross-examination that Jones was lying.
Alex and Joe’s biological mother, Krystal Daniels, 30, is charged with aggravated child abuse, child neglect, filing a false report, and tampering or fabricating evidence. Krystal Daniels allegedly admitted to being at home when Joseph Ray Daniels beat the child to death, but later recanted, claiming this was a coerced confession.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime]
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