ASHLAND CITY, TN (WSMV) - The attorney for a Dickson County couple accused of murdering their 5-year-old son is admitting he was wrong after pictures were released that dispute claims by his new witness.
Defense attorney Jake Lockert said a convenience store employee who claims she saw Baby Joe Clyde hours after he was reported missing, when, according to the prosecution's narrative, he was believed to be dead.
However, District Attorney General Ray Crouch, later on Thursday, explained that law enforcement checked out and proved to not be the child. Crouch released photos of Joe Clyde Daniels on a school bus on April 3, 2018 and the unidentified boy at Casey's Market.
Days after a widespread community search for the missing boy, his father, admitted to beating him to death and disposed of the body in the middle of the night.
The missing child report was called in later that morning. The couple has since recanted that confession, and has never told investigators where the body is.
The 28-year-old father was arrested and charged with one count of criminal homicide for the death of his son.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agents executed a search warrant at a home on Garner Creek Road in Tennessee City in May The search is "part of an ongoing investigation."
Lockert said two employees of a Benton County Gas Station saw “Baby Joe" on the morning of his disappearance, hours after the prosecution alleges, he would already be dead.
Their key piece of corroborating evidence is the women identified the little boy they saw as wearing these missing cowboy boots, belonging to “Baby Joe.”
On Thursday, Lockert alleged Dickson County Sheriff's Office and TBI never followed up on this lead.
"I felt like the public and law enforcement need to know and they need to make efforts to find this young boy and also try to track down the gentleman in this black and white school bus," Lockert said.
Crouch said law enforcement investigated this lead from Benton County by a review of the photos obtained by police "shows two distinctly different children. "
There are many distinctions, however the boys' haircuts are one of the key factors. Baby Joe had a short buzz cut while the unidentified child has much longer hair, Crouch said.
"Law enforcement agencies have invested thousands of hours in this case. The T.B.I. and the Dickson County Sheriff's Office have worked tirelessly and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, law enforcement does not get enough credit for their efforts because investigative strategies and details are not broadcast to the public," Crouch said in a statement on Thursday.
After the release of the photos, Lockert took to Facebook and said he was wrong. According to his post, his witness "verified that the child in the photos was the child she believed to be Joe Clyde Daniels."
"I was raised to say you're wrong when you're wrong, so I now state the child seen in a store in Benton County was not Joe Clyde Daniels. I wish I had been provided a report stating that photos had been collected from the store as well as being provided the photos from the store. If I had been given a report and photos, I would have shown the photos to the witnesses and immediately verified that Joe Clyde Daniels was not in the Benton County. I apologize for any inconvenience."
TBI told News4 on Thursday "as this remains an open and ongoing investigation, we can’t speak to specifics outside of what’s included in public records."
News 4 has reached out to the Dickson County Sheriff's office for a comment.
Lockert told News 4 that they were planning to release this information in court on September, which is the next hearing for Daniels.
To see the full news conference, click here.