Chad Daybell trial jury selection begins, juror from Lori Vallow Daybell trial weighs in

Apr 1, 2024, 7:02 PM | Updated: Apr 9, 2024, 11:47 pm

BOISE, Idaho — A juror from the Lori Vallow Daybell trial is giving his perspective as the jury selection process for her husband, Chad Daybell, begins his trial in Boise, Idaho.

Daybell is facing three counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and two counts of insurance fraud. His trial comes nearly one year after his wife, Vallow Daybell, was found guilty of similar charges in the deaths of her two children Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Unlike the jam-packed courtroom and full overflow room for the start of Vallow Daybell’s trial, Daybell’s case started with a crowd of less than two dozen attending the first day. Many of them were members of the media.

Jury selection underway on first day of Lori Vallow Daybell trial

One family member, Tammy Daybell’s aunt Vicki Hoban, sat through the first day of jury selection. Other family members have told KSL TV they plan to attend as the trial gets closer to opening statements.

On Monday, Judge Steven Boyce, the four-member prosecution team, and Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, embarked on an enormous mission: searching for impartial jurors.

“You must only consider the evidence against the defendant in this case, and should not speculate as to any other case or legal proceedings of the alleged co-conspirators,” Boyce said, meaning that jurors cannot take into account the fact that Vallow Daybell is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the same case.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

The court probed two panels of 16 prospective jurors Monday, as they built the foundation for the pool of 50 jurors they’re looking for. By Monday evening, they were more than a fifth of the way through the process.

Perhaps most notably, Boyce, the prosecution, and the defense asked potential jurors what they knew about the highly publicized case. Most raised their hands to say they had heard about it in some fashion. Many were later excused for pretrial media exposure and bias.

All potential jurors were asked about their feelings on the death penalty. The death penalty option is expected to lengthen Daybell’s trial.

“If the death penalty is one of the options in a murder case like this, does that mean if you find Mr. Daybell guilty, does that immediately mean that you go to the death penalty, and that would be your vote?” Prior asked, of one person.

It appeared Prior was making sure that if Daybell is found guilty, jurors wouldn’t automatically default to the death penalty as a punishment.

A familiar process

While the court audience was small, one person who made sure to attend knew what this process was like all too well.

“I just remember being asked some of the very same questions,” said Tom Evans, a juror from the Lori Vallow Daybell trial.

Evans said he wrote a book about serving on Vallow Daybell’s jury, which is expected to be published after Daybell’s trial. He’s working on a second book, and said he showed up to jury selection to gather information.

Evans said the proceeds from his book will be donated to Hope House in Idaho, an organization that helps children.

“It started out being really heavy and dark, and a lot of responsibility,” he said, of what serving on Vallow Daybell’s jury was like for him. “I think toward the end, it turned into more, I was honored to do my part and proud of the judicial system, and the police and all the hard work that everybody was doing to make it all happen.”

The death penalty was not an option for Vallow Daybell. Evans said it would have been tough for him to sentence somebody to death.

“I was just really glad that I was not confronted with that, and I feel for the jurors who are more than likely going to be,” he said.

Lori Vallow Daybell will not face death penalty in murder trial

He explained how serving on Vallow Daybell’s jury took an emotional toll on him, because of the heaviness of the case. Evans knows this is just the beginning for a whole new group, one year later.

“It’s like you’re in shock and you just don’t realize that. At some point I did start to realize that, and that’s as I was starting to heal, I guess, from it all,” Evans said. “So the jurors are going to go through that, and probably a lot more.”

Once the court reaches the pool of 50 prospective jurors, the court will then enter into peremptory challenges and will whittle the pool down to 12 trial jurors, and six alternates.

The jury selection process will likely continue over the next several days.

Subscribe to the KSL News YouTube channel to view the full trial of Chad Daybell as it happens.

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Chad Daybell trial jury selection begins, juror from Lori Vallow Daybell trial weighs in