Here’s how Chad Daybell’s trial will differ from his wife Lori Vallow Daybell

Mar 31, 2024, 10:27 PM | Updated: Apr 2, 2024, 8:51 am

BOISE — Monday will mark the beginning of the trial for Chad Guy Daybell in the 2019 murders of Lori Vallow Daybell’s two children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and the 2019 death of his late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Chad Daybell’s trial comes one year after Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial. A jury found Lori Vallow Daybell guilty on all charges. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

For two trials similar in accusations, evidence, the prosecution’s witness list, and approach, what unfolds in the coming weeks for Daybell will still carry dramatic differences because of the death penalty potential.

Daybell is on trial for charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder of JJ, Tylee and Tammy Daybell, plus two charges of life insurance fraud for Tammy Daybell’s death.

The death penalty wasn’t an option in Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial, which took place in the same Ada County Courthouse during the same time of year in 2023 in Boise.

KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas, who is not connected to the case but has both prosecuted and defended death penalty cases, said that everything will take longer in Daybell’s trial, including jury selection.

That is expected to last two weeks instead of the one it took to get a jury seated in Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial. The court will focus on finding people who don’t have preconceived notions and can decide guilt and, potentially, punishment.

Jurors and the law

“You have to have jurors who are willing to follow the law as it relates to the death penalty,” Skordas said. “You can’t have a juror who doesn’t believe in the death penalty.”

Considering the case has been in the public eye for more than four years, Skordas indicated it’s imperative to find people who can stay impartial despite the notoriety of the murders and Lori Vallow Daybell’s previous trial.

“They might think, ‘Hey if she was guilty, why isn’t he?'” Skordas said. “So you’ve got to get jurors who are going to agree and swear that they will decide his guilt or innocence solely on the evidence in his trial and not based on anything that happened to his wife.”

Skordas said that prosecutors will likely spend more time presenting their case than they did in Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial, and more thoroughly, as they aim for the death penalty, especially with Daybell facing the extra first-degree murder charge for Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell was not charged with her murder but was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in Tammy Daybell’s death.

“In a death penalty case, a capital case, they could just leave no stone unturned. And they’ve got to show the jury everything they’ve got,” Skordas said. “There are multiple murder counts here. So they want to prove those counts because that’s an aggravating factor that’s more likely to make the jury want to think that (the) death penalty is the appropriate remedy here.”

Defense will call witnesses

Lori Vallow Daybell’s defense attorneys didn’t call any witnesses. Chad Daybell’s attorney John Prior has indicated that he will.

“That’s one of the significant differences, is that I think Chad has much more likelihood of putting on a defense, including witnesses and experts and evidence,” Skordas said.

The estimated length for Chad Daybell’s trial is eight to 12 weeks versus the five weeks it took for Lori Vallow Daybell.

If the jury returns a guilty verdict, Skordas said the trial would enter a second penalty phase. That phase could last another couple of weeks, spending time examining Chad Daybell as a person.

“So, things that are not admissible in terms of his guilt that is his character, his prior reputation, the good things he’s done in life, bad things he’s done,” Skordas said.

The jury of 12 potentially would then decide if death is the proper punishment.

Jury selection in the trial of Chad Daybell begins Monday morning. KSL will have reporters in court throughout the entire trial and will stream Chad Daybell’s trial live on the KSL+ app.

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Here’s how Chad Daybell’s trial will differ from his wife Lori Vallow Daybell