Here’s what will happen on Day 1 of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Apr 3, 2023, 7:54 AM | Updated: Apr 4, 2023, 3:41 pm

BOISE, Idaho — Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial officially begins Monday. The 49-year-old is facing charges for the murders of her children and husband’s late wife. For the first couple of days, the courtroom will remain closed to the public for jury selection.

It’s expected to take a few days to settle on the list of people who will decide if Vallow Daybell is guilty or innocent of killing Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, conspiracy to murder Tammy Daybell, and other related charges.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Vallow Daybell’s husband, Chad Daybell, is expected to go to trial at a later time for similar charges.

Greg Skordas, KSL legal analyst who is both a former defense attorney and prosecutor and has extensive experience working on murder cases, explained what the first day of trial will look like.

“There will be a huge number of people brought in, what we call the jury pool, from which the ultimate 12 jurors that will hear this case will be selected,” he said.

That initial pool could be as many as 100 people, Skordas said. Through a questionnaire, the court will whittle that number down through a process of elimination to about 30 or 40 people, before attorneys on each side then decide on the final 12.

Skordas added that a few extra people will be chosen as alternates. One huge concern, he indicated, will be making sure potential jurors are impartial.

“Both sides and the judge want jurors who can follow the law, who will follow the law, and who don’t have already formed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of Lori Vallow — and they’re willing to let the government put on its case and the defense put on their case before they form an opinion,” he said.

Considering the extensive attention of the case nationally and internationally, it could be hard to find jurors who don’t know about the case. But Skordas described how it’s more about finding people whose minds aren’t already made up.

“The jurors are going to say, ‘I know about the case.’ That’s not the question,” he said. “The question is, given what you know about the case, can you still make an opinion and base your decision solely on the evidence that you’re about to hear during this trial?”

Skordas explained how jury selection is the main reason why the trial was moved to Boise in the first place.

Jury selection likely would have been difficult in Fremont County, where JJ Vallow and Ryan were found murdered on the property of Chad Daybell, Vallow Daybell’s husband. It’s also where Tammy Daybell, Chad’s former wife, died under suspicious circumstances.

Chad and Tammy Daybell lived in the small, tight-knit community for many years.

“In small, rural counties it’s often hard to find qualified jurors who don’t know the parties, who don’t know the law enforcement officers, maybe they’re a neighbor, former schoolteacher, don’t know the medical people, don’t know the victim’s family — that type of thing,” Skordas said. “And so, moving it to a bigger county or even just a different county will sort of get away from that taint and that bias.”

Skordas said the jury selection process that will start Monday could take several days, possibly up to a week before opening statements begin.

When the courtroom opens to the public for opening statements and beyond, there’s still a decision hanging in the balance as to whether or not JJ Vallow’s grandparents will be allowed to watch the trial.

The death penalty is still an option for Chad Daybell, who waived his right to a speedy trial to allow for more time to prepare and review. His trial date hasn’t been set. The couple was originally going to be tried together, but the cases were recently severed.

Click here to see more of KSL TV’s extensive coverage of the trial and case.

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Here’s what will happen on Day 1 of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial