Potential jurors questioned during day 3 of Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Apr 5, 2023, 9:10 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2023, 6:02 am

BOISE, Idaho — In French, “voir dire” means to “speak the truth.” In the American court system, it’s the term used for the process of selecting a jury. It determines whether a juror is acceptable to both the defense and the prosecution.

Day three in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell was another day of voir dire, where 39 people were questioned and at the end of the day, most had been excused and three juror spots had yet to be filled.

The court has said it wants to have 42 potential jurors before moving forward into the preemptory challenge portion of the trial. However, only 18 need to be selected for the trial.

Lori Vallow Daybell is being tried for the murder of her children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow. She is charged with seven felonies and is also accused of conspiring to murder Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Her husband, Chad Daybell, is also facing similar charges, but his trial has yet to begin.

Vallow Daybell has pleaded not guilty. In court on Wednesday, she witnessed the voir dire process as she sat between her two lawyers.

The nature of the crimes, and publicity, drew attention

The nature of the crimes Vallow Daybell are charged with has arguably lengthened the voir dire process.

So, too, has the publicity that she and Daybell garnered since the children were officially listed as missing, and the couple named as persons of interest, in December 2019.

Since that time, multiple televised and streamed documentaries have highlighted what the public knows about the children’s disappearance, the deaths of the Daybell’s other spouses and other details about the lives of the couple.

On Wednesday, as he has done for all potential jurors, Judge Steven Boyce asked the groups whether they’d seen documentaries from Dateline, or Netflix, related to the Vallow Daybell case.

In some instances, the potential juror said yes to that line of questioning. Others mentioned they’d heard bits and pieces of the story from the media.

However, admitting this was not an automatic ticket to being excused as a juror.

“They were in some part of Hawaii,” one juror said, according to KSL TV reporter Lauren Steinbrecher, who attended the proceeding on Wednesday, “and not being able to answer where the kids are. That’s just a suspicious thing, guardianship-wise, right? That’s just weird.”

Steinbrecher said that the judge didn’t think that comment rose to the level of excusing the juror, and that juror passed.

One topic, two potential jurors

But another juror, who admitted knowing the Daybells had been in Hawaii, described what they knew about the case in another way.

“The kids were missing,” Steinbrecher reported the potential juror saying. “When I first became aware, they — Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell — were in Hawaii. My thing there is if your child is missing why would you go to Hawaii unless you know something … I do think she knew what happened because she went to Hawaii.”

According to Steinbrecher, that juror was excused for implied bias.

One juror told the court that he learned about the case from his wife, who he described as a crime junkie, according to Steinbrecher. He admitted it would be difficult not to talk about the case with her if he was assigned as a juror.

He was excused from the trial.

What’s next in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial?

Day four of the trial will begin Thursday with another round of voir dire. Judge Boyce did not mention whether he has decided to sequester the jury, nor did he mention a ruling on whether JJ’s grandparents,  Kay and Larry Woodcock, will be allowed to sit in on the court proceedings.

KSL TV’s Lauren Steinbrecher and KSL NewsRadio’s Aimee Cobabe contributed to this report.

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Potential jurors questioned during day 3 of Lori Vallow Daybell trial