Opening statements given by defense and prosecution in Daybell trial, defense attorney says Daybell children will testify

Apr 10, 2024, 4:37 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The prosecution and defense shared opening statements Wednesday in the trial of Chad Daybell, a man who is accused of murdering three people.

Chad Daybell is charged with the first-degree murder of his first wife Tammy Douglas Daybell, and his two step children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Chad Daybell is married to Lori Vallow Daybell.  who was convicted of six felonies last summer involving the deaths of her two children and conspiring to murder Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

The prosecution

Rob Wood, Madison County prosecutor presented Chad Daybell as a man seeking “money, power, and sex.”

“Two dead children buried in defendant Chad Daybell’s backyard. Next month, wife found dead in marital bed,” Wood said.

Wood outlined a timeline of events using a powerpoint with photos of the people involved. It began with one of the last known photos of Tylee and JJ, while Wood described the events in “chapters.”

Chapter one he explained was the desire for money, power, and sex. Next, the ordinary existence was not enough so “they created an alternate reality in which they named themselves James and Elena,” Wood said.

Alex Cox, Lori Vallow Daybell’s brother, was shown next. Cox told his wife shortly before he died that he was afraid he would become Lori Vallow Daybell’s and Chad Daybell’s “fall guy,” Wood explained.

“Tylee Ryan was last seen Sept. 8, her remains charred, dismembered were found on Chad Daybell’s property,” Wood said. “JJ Vallow… life was also claimed. His death by suffocation. While JJ was missing, Lori continued to receive… money provided by Charles Vallow’s death.”

Wood told the court they would hear “multiple witnesses” say that Chad predicted Tammy’s death.

Next Wood showed a photo of Chad and Lori on the beach in Hawaii. They were married 17 days after Tammy Daybell’s death.

When the investigation began, Wood explained Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell lied to police and were unwilling to produce the children.

Wood explained to the jury that they would be hearing a lot of information but said, “your verdict will be the link that writes the final chapter.”

The defense

John Prior, Chad Daybell’s defense attorney, next presented his opening statements. He admonished the jury to not be distracted by speculation.

Prior explained Tammy Daybell and Chad Daybell had five children together and moved to Idaho where they started a small publishing company. Chad Daybell wrote books.

“He writes about good and evil and what it means to be good and what it means to be evil. Writes about light and dark. Subjects that are a little darker like death,” Prior said.

Prior tells the court it was while he was traveling to promote his books when he met a “beautiful stunning woman,” Lori Vallow Daybell.

Prior said Chad Daybell was clean cut but “Lori was a different story,” and drew Chad Daybell into a manipulative relationship.

“Eventually there was a murder and there was a burial….the body of JJ Vallow was found between a barn and next to a pond,” Prior said.

Prior said the jury would hear from four experts to talk about hair samples found on the plastic JJ’s body was found in, that would link Lori Vallow Daybell to the case. Additionally, he mentioned, another expert will testify you can’t determine the cause of death.

“But no DNA evidence found, no hair sample of Chad Daybell on Tylee Ryan or JJ Vallow,” Prior said.

Next Prior explained that several of the children of Tammy Daybell and Chad Daybell would be testifying.

“You will hear testimony of Daybell children three or four or five children. They will talk about mother’s health struggles, medicinal treatments,” Prior said.

Children of Chad Daybell have not spoken publicly in almost a year.

In May 2023, some of Chad Daybell’s kids told CBS’ 48 Hours they believe their Dad’s innocence.

The first witness, Detective Ray Hermosillo with Rexburg Police Department was called as the first witness.

Hermosillo described the efforts to find the children after JJ and Tylee were first reported missing from monitoring Tylee’s jeep, to going through Lori Vallow Daybell’s apartment, to ultimately digging up Chad’s Daybell’s yard.

Court will resume Thursday morning.

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Opening statements given by defense and prosecution in Daybell trial, defense attorney says Daybell children will testify