Judge combines trials for Chad and Lori Daybell

Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell. Photos: Rexburg (Idaho) Police Department

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho, Oct. 29, 2020 (East Idaho News/Gephardt Daily) — The jury trials for Chad and Lori Daybell will be combined following a ruling by District Judge Steven Boyce Thursday morning in a St. Anthony, Idaho, courtroom.

Both Daybells face charges related to the disappearance of Lori Vallow Daybell’s children, whose bodies were found buried on Idaho property owned by former Utahn Chad Daybell.

According to an article by East Idaho News, Chad Daybell, alongside his attorney, John Prior, appeared over Zoom alongside the judge and Special Prosecutor Rob Wood. Wood initially asked for the cases to be combined for efficiency as he planned to use the same evidence and witnesses to prosecute both Chad and Lori Daybell.

Wood argued keeping the cases separate meant duplicative work for two separate judges and two sets of court staff. Additionally, the cost for bringing witnesses for both cases would be higher, and separate trials might create inconsistencies for rulings on evidence which may lead to potential appeals.

Prior argued combining the trials will increase the media coverage. With that in mind, Prior claimed that it would become difficult to find an unbiased jury, making it unfair for Chad.

Wood disagreed.

“Separate cases absolutely mean more hearings, more media coverage and more difficulty in finding a suitable jury,” Wood said.

Both Prior and Wood mentioned that a motion for severance could be filed at a later date such as if a plea agreement or other resolution to the case was met by one of the defendants.

Before making his ruling, Boyce said under Idaho Criminal Rule two people can be tried together when the defendants are accused of participating in the same act.

Lori Vallow Daybell’s attorney Mark Means was not part of the hearing, because he does not object to having the cases combined.

Authorities arrested Chad Daybell on June 9 of this year in Fremont County after the remains of 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan were found buried in his backyard. J.J. was found wrapped tightly in plastic that had been taped. Tylee was found dismembered.

Vallow children
Lori Vallow Daybell and son J.J. Vallow are shown at left, and J.J. Vallow, Tylee Ryan and their uncle, Alex Cox, are shown at right in these photos, taken at Yellowstone National Park and shared on Thursday, March 5, 2020, by the FBI Rexburg office.

The wedding took place two weeks after the death of Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, died unexpectedly at age 49. Tammy Daybell, a former Utah resident, is buried in Springville, Utah, where much of her family lives.

Tammy Daybell. Photo via East Idaho News

In November 2019, Daybell married the children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii.

Lori Vallow Daybell’s previous husband, Charles Daybell, was shot to death on July 11, 2019, by her brother, Alex Ryan, who died five months later of a blood clot. Ryan told police he shot Vallow in self-defense.

Ryan had previously told police in Arizona his wife had threatened his life.

Charles Vallow, then-husband of Lori Vallow, is shown at left on a Jan. 31, 2019 police body cam video with Gilbert Arizona officers as he re-enters his house and discovers his family has left, and at right in the obituary for his July 11, 2019 death.

Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

Lori Vallow Daybell was arrested on Feb. 20, and jailed in Madison County. She has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Her jury trial is set to begin on April 2.

The next hearing for the case is scheduled for Chad Daybell on Nov. 24 when Prior is expected to argue the case should be dismissed. Prior is also planning to ask a judge to move the trial out of Fremont County due to potential jury bias concerns.

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