BABY JOE: What sentence could Joseph Daniels face if found guilty?


DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Joseph Daniels could be sentenced to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole if the jury finds him guilty of murdering his five-year-old son, Joe Clyde, but what about the other four charges against him?

The Dickson County man faces a total of five charges, including first-degree murder, first-degree murder in perpetration of a felony, aggravated child abuse, filing a false report and evidence tampering.

Joseph Daniels sits in the courtroom on Day 6 of his murder trial on June 9, 2021 (Photo: WKRN)

Below are the possible sentences Joseph Daniels could face for each of those charges:

39-13-202. First degree murder.

(a) First degree murder is:

  • (1) A premeditated and intentional killing of another;
  • (2) A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first degree murder, act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, physical abuse in violation of § 71-6-119, aggravated neglect of an elderly or vulnerable adult in violation of § 39-15-508, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy; or
  • (3) A killing of another committed as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.

(b) No culpable mental state is required for conviction under subdivision (a)(2) or (a)(3), except the intent to commit the enumerated offenses or acts in those subdivisions.

(c) A person convicted of first degree murder shall be punished by:

  • (1) Death;
  • (2) Imprisonment for life without possibility of parole; or
  • (3) Imprisonment for life.

(d) As used in subdivision (a)(1), “premeditation” is an act done after the exercise of reflection and judgment. “Premeditation” means that the intent to kill must have been formed prior to the act itself. It is not necessary that the purpose to kill preexist in the mind of the accused for any definite period of time. The mental state of the accused at the time the accused allegedly decided to kill must be carefully considered in order to determine whether the accused was sufficiently free from excitement and passion as to be capable of premeditation.

39-16-503. Tampering with or fabricating evidence.

(a) It is unlawful for any person, knowing that an investigation or official proceeding is pending or in progress, to:

  • (1) Alter, destroy, or conceal any record, document or thing with intent to impair its verity, legibility, or availability as evidence in the investigation or official proceeding; or
  • (2) Make, present, or use any record, document or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation or official proceeding.

(b) A violation of this section is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of three to six years.

39-16-502. False reports.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to:

  • (1) Initiate a report or statement to a law enforcement officer concerning an offense or incident within the officer’s concern knowing that:
    • (A) The offense or incident reported did not occur;
    • (B) The person has no information relating to the offense or incident reported; or
    • (C) The information relating to the offense reported is false; or
  • (2) Make a report or statement in response to a legitimate inquiry by a law enforcement officer concerning a material fact about an offense or incident within the officer’s concern, knowing that the report or statement is false and with the intent to obstruct or hinder the officer from:
    • (A) Preventing the offense or incident from occurring or continuing to occur; or
    • (B) Apprehending or locating another person suspected of committing an offense; or
  • (3) Intentionally initiate or circulate a report of a past, present, or impending bombing, fire or other emergency, knowing that the report is false or baseless and knowing:
    • (A) It will cause action of any sort by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with those emergencies;
    • (B) It will place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
    • (C) It will prevent or interrupt the occupation of any building, place of assembly, form of conveyance, or any other place to which the public has access.


(1) A violation of subdivision (a)(1) or (a)(2) is a Class D felony, which carries a sentence of two to four years.

(2) A violation of subdivision (a)(3) is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of three to six years.

39-15-401. Child abuse and child neglect or endangerment (in part)

(a) Any person who knowingly, other than by accidental means, treats a child under eighteen (18) years of age in such a manner as to inflict injury commits a Class A misdemeanor; provided, however, that, if the abused child is eight (8) years of age or less, the penalty is a Class D felony, which carries a sentence of two to four years.

(b) Any person who knowingly abuses or neglects a child under eighteen (18) years of age, so as to adversely affect the child’s health and welfare, commits a Class A misdemeanor; provided, that, if the abused or neglected child is eight (8) years of age or less, the penalty is a Class E felony, which carries a sentence of one to two years.


  • (1) A parent or custodian of a child eight (8) years of age or less commits child endangerment who knowingly exposes such child to or knowingly fails to protect such child from abuse or neglect resulting in physical injury or imminent danger to the child.
  • (2) For purposes of this subsection (c):
  1. (A) “Imminent danger” means the existence of any condition or practice that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious bodily injury;
  2. (B) “Knowingly” means the person knew, or should have known upon a reasonable inquiry, that abuse to or neglect of the child would occur which would result in physical injury to the child. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary parent or legal custodian of a child eight (8) years of age or less would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the defendant’s standpoint; and
  3. (C) “Parent or custodian” means the biological or adoptive parent or any person who has legal custody of the child.
  • (3) A violation of this subsection (c) is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days.


  • (1) Any court having reasonable cause to believe that a person is guilty of violating this section shall have the person brought before the court, either by summons or warrant. No arrest warrant or summons shall be issued by any person authorized to issue the warrant or summons, nor shall criminal charges be instituted against a child’s parent, guardian or custodian for a violation of subsection (a), based upon the allegation that unreasonable corporal punishment was administered to the child, unless the affidavit of complaint also contains a copy of the report prepared by the law enforcement official who investigated the allegation, or independent medical verification of injury to the child.

(A) As provided in this subdivision (d)(2), juvenile courts, courts of general session, and circuit and criminal courts, shall have concurrent jurisdiction to hear violations of this section.

(B) If the person pleads not guilty, the juvenile judge or general sessions judge shall have the power to bind the person over to the grand jury, as in cases of misdemeanors under the criminal laws of this state. Upon being bound over to the grand jury, the person may be prosecuted on an indictment filed by the district attorney general and, notwithstanding § 40-13-103, a prosecutor need not be named on the indictment.

(C) On a plea of not guilty, the juvenile court judge or general sessions judge shall have the power to proceed to hear the case on its merits, without the intervention of a jury, if the person requests a hearing in juvenile court or general sessions court and expressly waives, in writing, indictment, presentment, grand jury investigation and a jury trial.

(D) If the person enters a plea of guilty, the juvenile court or general sessions court judge shall sentence the person under this section.

(E) Regardless of whether the person pleads guilty or not guilty, the circuit court or criminal court shall have the power to proceed to hear the case on its merits, and, if found guilty, to sentence the person under this section.

(e) Except as expressly provided, this section shall not be construed as repealing any provision of any other statute, but shall be supplementary to any other provision and cumulative of any other provision.

(f) A violation of this section may be a lesser included offense of any kind of homicide, statutory assault, or sexual offense, if the victim is a child and the evidence supports a charge under this section. In any case in which conduct violating this section also constitutes assault, the conduct may be prosecuted under this section or under § 39-13-101 or § 39-13-102, or both.

(g) For purposes of this section, “adversely affect the child’s health and welfare” may include, but not be limited to, the natural effects of starvation or dehydration or acts of female genital mutilation as defined in § 39-13-110.

(h) The court may, in addition to any other punishment otherwise authorized by law, order a person convicted of child abuse to refrain from having any contact with the victim of the offense, including, but not limited to, attempted contact through internet services or social networking websites; provided, that the person has no parental rights to such victim at the time of the court’s order.

Joe Clyde Daniels 2
Joe Clyde Daniels (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Joseph Daniels called 911 around 6:22 a.m. on the morning of April 4, 2018 and said Joe Clyde had “escaped” from the family’s residence on Garners Creek Road in Dickson County.

Two days later, in a recorded interview with law enforcement, Joseph Daniels confessed to the fatal beating of his son, who had autism and was non-verbal, after the five-year-old had urinated on the floor of a bedroom. He told investigators that he dumped Joe Clyde’s body in a rural area.

The child’s body has never been located.

Joe Clyde Daniels search
(Photo: WKRN)

Jake Lockert, the public defender representing Joseph Daniels, has said his client’s confession was coerced, but the judge allowed it to be played and used as evidence in the trial.

The jury, made up of 12 people, was chosen from a pool of people in Chattanooga, all of which the judge said had never heard the name “Baby Joe.”

Joseph and Krystal Daniels - Baby Joe parents
Joseph and Krystal Daniels (Photos: WKRN)

Joseph Daniels’ wife, Krystal witnessed the fatal beating, 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 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.

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