Prosecutors Debate Whether To Seek Death Penalty Against Daybell, Vallow

May 26, 2021, 10:40 PM | Updated: 11:35 pm

REXBURG, Idaho — Prosecutors have started to debate whether they will pursue the death penalty against Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow.

Both parties confirmed Wednesday they want to carry on with their current laywers, but if the death penalty is officially brought to the table, that could change. 

During his initial appearance, Chad Daybell confirmed he wants to carry on with John Prior as his attorney.

Lori Vallow followed suit, keeping with her attorney Mark Means. 

Criminal Defense Attorney Greg Skordas, a former Salt Lake County prosecutor, said that could change if prosecutors decide to pursue the death penalty. In that case, Daybell and Vallow would need what Skordas calls a “Death Qualified” attorney. 

“When you get to something like a death penalty case, most of our courts, most of our states require that the attorney involved have a certain amount of training or experience that qualifies them to handle capital cases,” said Skordas. 

Skordas, who has handled several capital cases, said it’s not a requirement if Daybell and Vallow hire private counsel. But when the state foots the bill, they have higher standards to avoid the risk of an appeal. 

“The accused can go back and say, ‘Look, this is a death penalty case. My attorney wasn’t death qualified,’” said Skordas. 

As to whether or not prosecutors will actually go through and push for the death penalty, or just life in prison for the murder of JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan, and Tammy Daybell, Skordas said that remains to be seen. 

“If there is a pattern that fits the death penalty, it certainly is a case like this, where you have multiple homicides, very sympathetic victims, children and such callousness, allegedly on the part of the perpetrators,” he said. 

It seems there is only one death penalty-qualified attorney in the area of Fremont County, so Daybell and Vallow would need to bring someone in from elsewhere.

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Prosecutors Debate Whether To Seek Death Penalty Against Daybell, Vallow