CHARLOTTE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On the first day of the trial of Joseph Daniels, opening statements revealed that the state has no physical evidence linking Joseph to the alleged death of his son Joe Clyde and that his little brother allegedly witnessed the boy's death.
District Attorney Ray Crouch and Defense Attorney Jake Lockert delivered their opening statements, each presenting what they believe the evidence will show throughout the trial.
Crouch told the jury that Joe Clyde's brother, Alex witnessed Joseph brutally beat Joe to death and threatened the boy to not tell anyone.
Lockert explained the lack of physical evidence in the case - nothing to prove that Joseph killed his son.
The first witness the state called was Joe Clyde’s speech pathology teacher.
She testified that Joe Clyde struggled to verbalize certain words, but between sounding out words and his non-verbal skills, he was making great progress.
Three videos of Joe were shown to the jury. They showed him interacting with his teacher or conducting language and learning exercises.
The pathologist and even a couple of members of the jury wiped away tears as they watched the videos of the young boy.
The prosecution also entered in evidence an alphabet lock that was sometimes used in class - an alphabet block that when placed together the correct way would unlock.
She testified that the 5-year-old often struggled to undo the lock, and when he did, he was often very loud.
The district attorney seemed to be setting up the argument that baby Joe couldn’t have unlocked the door and snuck out on the night he disappeared.
Crouch: Joe Clyde Daniels did have autism but was able to communicate in unique ways. Described some physical challenges Joe experienced with his hands and overall growth. Was afraid of loud noises.— Chris Davis NC5 (@ChrisDavisMMJ) June 3, 2021
Joe Clyde’s school bus driver also took the stand as well as the 9-1-1 operator that spoke to Joseph Daniels when he called for help the next morning.
The operator noted how the first thing Joseph said was — “my son has escaped.” The defense argued that may have been a more typical response for someone who has a child with autism.
"Did you find anything odd about this phone call," the district attorney asked her.
"He seemed extremely calm," she said.
The final two witnesses were former Dickson County Sheriff Deputy Nicholas Dearman and Field Training Officer Derek Smith.
Both testified about the morning Joe Clyde was reported missing. Video from one of their body cameras showed them searching in the immediate area of the home and property. Daniels can be seen reportedly driving away from the property.
Jury selection wrapped Wednesday evening. The 12-person jury will be brought from Chattanooga to Dickson County this morning by bus and then sequestered for the duration of the trial.
Attorneys were finally able to question potential jurors Wednesday morning in Chattanooga after dismissing dozens of people who had excuses for not serving on Tuesday.
The 12-person jury was chosen from a pool of nearly 90 people. There are 4 alternates. Those involved in the jury selection process tell NewsChannel 5 very few in the pool knew anything about the Joe Clyde case – some had seen some brief news reports.
Daniels is accused of killing his 5-year-old son, Joe Clyde. The boy was reported missing and is now presumed dead, despite his body never being found over the years.
A key piece of evidence that’s being allowed at trial is Joseph Daniels' confession, which he later recanted. There are more than 80 witnesses who could be called to testify, and the trial could take a week or longer.
NewsChannel 5 will also be streaming live on NewsChannel5.com and on the NC5 Facebook page.
Previous stories: Joe Clyde Daniels case
- Lawyers argue over admissibility of evidence in Joe Clyde case
- Prosecutors, defense agree to sever Daniels' cases into two trials
- Attorneys use taped interrogation in hearing to argue Joseph Daniels' confession was coerced
- Joseph Daniels' recanted confession played in court
- TBI serves search warrant in Joe Clyde Daniels case, searches brush around home
- Video evidence shows someone at Joe Clyde Daniels' home the night 5-year-old disappeared
- Krystal Daniels recants statement about what happened to son, Joe Clyde
- Jailhouse phone calls could be key to prosecution of Joe Clyde Daniels homicide case
- Letter from Joe Clyde's Father: "If we can get Krystal to confess...we can win this case."