State, defense rests in Joseph Daniels case

Posted at 9:46 AM, June 11, 2021 and last updated 4:41 PM, July 19, 2023

By: Laken Bowles & Chris Davis

CHARLOTTE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Closing arguments are being heard today in the trial of Joseph Daniels, the man accused in the presumed death of his 5-year-old son, Joe Clyde Daniels.


The defense chose not to call any witnesses or enter any additional evidence after the state rested their case Thursday.

The state first called Joel Wade, a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who specializes in cell phone data. His data report was entered into evidence.

Next, Agent Zachary Burkhart, the head TBI agent on the case, took the stand. District Attorney Ray Crouch reviewed parts of the confession recordings with Burkhart before reviewing the timeline of the whole disappearance.

Agent Burkhart reviewed an email chain between Joseph Daniels and DeVita Inc. just days before Joe Clyde went missing, saying Daniels was attempting to land a job. The emails showed that Daniels was going through a background check for a job at DeVita. They requested additional documentation the day Joe Clyde went missing.

The state again showed the jury police dash cam video from April 4, the morning Joe Clyde was reported missing, showing Joseph driving around Dickson County shortly after calling 911 to report the boy missing.

This 2017 photo provided by NamUs shows 5-year-old Joe Clyde Daniels. (NamUs)

After that, the state showed video of Joseph Daniels at the Love’s Truck Stop on April 5 at 2:44 a.m. The video showed Daniels buying an item before leaving at 2:45 am. He returned 18 minutes later to buy something else. He stayed for eight minutes for his second trip to Love’s.

A nearby surveillance camera showed Joseph driving back home around 3:28 a.m.

The prosecution then showed Facebook records of a conversation between Krystal Daniels and a man named Thomas. The state subpoenaed 10,000 pages of Messenger messages between Thomas and Krystal, showing a strained marriage between Krystal and Joseph in early 2018, her plotting a divorce and a budding romance between Krystal and Thomas.

The messages also seemed to confirm an ongoing sexual relationship between the two.

For the first time, jurors also heard a timeline of Joseph Daniels’ Google searches about taking a paternity test, along with airline and bus ticket searches. DA Crouch then showed the jury a text from Joseph to his mother on March 31, three days before Joe Clyde went missing, that referenced suicidal tendencies.

The state alleged that Daniels may have seen these messages, which may have driven him to make a rash decision. But the defense pointed out — this can’t be proven.

The prosecution also argued that the TBI did all it could and alleges that the reason there’s so little physical evidence is because the Daniels may have cleaned it all up. But Daniels’ defense team alleges the TBI stopped following up on other leads, after Joseph Daniels gave his now-recanted confession.

Public defender Jake Lockert asked the TBI agent in charge of the investigation why some leads were not followed up with tracking K-9 dogs.

“If you’re trying to find a child would you not want to use K-9’s to ascertain that,” Lockert asked.

“We would want to use everything and we did. We used every method after review that we could think of to help try at the time he was reported missing, we used every available effort,” Burkhart responded.

On Wednesday, for the second time in two days, jurors heard Joseph Daniels, in his own words, talk about the death of his son, Joe Clyde.

In 13 audio clips, District Attorney Ray Crouch let the jury listen to Joseph say things like, “I didn’t mean for this to happen,” — “Dad ‘s [Joseph’s Dad] going to kill me,” — “I just wanted [Joe Clyde] to be happy,” — “I want to tell my wife I’m sorry.” The recordings were made just after the TBI confession, while they were driving to where Joseph said they might find a body. Of course, they never have.

Daniels also said in one of the audio clips, “(My stepson) is a good boy, he isn’t a liar.” That will help the state corroborate the boy’s testimony from Monday, where he testified that he watched his stepfather beat Joe Clyde and then carry his body off their property.

Wednesday afternoon, six forensic scientists from the TBI testified about the physical evidence in this trial, which is essentially nothing. The state wasn’t able to produce any blood, hair fibers, clothing fibers or stains that prove Joe Clyde is dead or that Joseph is responsible.

This story was originally published June 10, 2021, by WTVF in Nashville.