Judge bars prosecutor from taking stand in Chad Daybell trial

Apr 16, 2024, 5:41 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2024, 1:13 pm

BOISE, Idaho — On the fourth day of testimony in Chad Daybell’s murder trial Tuesday, the jury heard further testimony from law enforcement officers. A motion was argued to determine whether or not a state prosecutor, who helped secure convictions in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial, should be called to the witness stand.

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

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

The crowd outside the courtroom was promoting a celebration of life for the children that is scheduled for April 27 at 11 a.m. in Idaho Falls at Colonial Theater.

First witness, Nicole Heideman

FBI Tactical Specialist Nicole Heideman finished her testimony from Monday. She was first questioned by Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake. Heideman was asked about various searches connected to several email addresses that were connected to Chad and Lori Daybell. 

The first search terms were connected to the email The first search terms were looking for information regarding someone named “Ned Schneider,” or some spelled, “Ned Snider.” The search activity included terms like “Ned Snider 1996 death Louisiana.”

Heideman testified that the variations of the name “Ned Schneider” were referring to Vallow Daybell’s late husband, Charles Vallow, who was killed by her brother.

“In reviewing police reports from Chandler Police Department and body camera footage, I believe, from Gilbert Police Department, Charles Vallow makes comments that his wife Lori Vallow was referring to him as variations on the name Ned Schneider,” she said.

Blake asked about another search term made by Chad Daybell, “bodies possessed after original occupant dies.” Heideman explained the two believed Charles Vallow was possessed by “an entity named Ned.”

Second witness, Nathan Duncan

Det. Nathan Duncan with the Chandler Police Department took the stand next, and the prosecution began by asking about his introduction to the case, started with the 911 phone call that was made by Alex Cox the day he killed Charles Vallow. Duncan was dispatched to the scene, as a homicide detective, though Cox said he had shot Charles Vallow out of self-defense.

Duncan detailed the physical appearance of the crime scene, as Charles Vallow’s death was later ruled a homicide.

Later, Duncan discussed multiple forms of correspondence, including a suspicious letter, determined to be fabricated. Others included a message sent from Cox to Lori Vallow Daybell that stated, “Love you too. Have fun and get rid of Ned already.”

Lori Vallow responded: “Ned is still alive. Just confirmed.”

Multiple text messages between Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were reviewed, and one conversation between the two of them, discussing Charles Vallow’s life insurance policy days after his death.

“I just got the letter from the insurance company saying I am not the beneficiary. It’s a spear thru my heart. Who do you think he changed it to? Brandon? Or probably Kay? He left nothing for JJ!” Lori Vallow texted.

“Wow. That’s terrible. There’s no way to find out?” Chad Daybell responded.

Later, Lori Vallow texted again, stating she had called the insurance company and confirmed it had been changed, but she “would still get the $4000 a month from (social security).”

Debate of prosecutor taking the stand

After the lunch break, a closed hearing took place to discuss whether the prosecutor, Rob Wood, who prosecuted the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, should take the stand as a witness. She was found guilty of six felonies, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The motion was made because a long thread of text messages is being considered between Wood, and a potential witness who has not taken the stand and Melanie Gibb. The text messages spanned an approximately “seven or eight-month period,” and included 340 text exchanges.

Blake said the state had some concerns that John Prior, the defense attorney, would bring implications outside of the evidence to his cross-examination of Wood. The judge ruled that the prosecutor should not be called to testify by the state, but allowed the inclusion of the text messages in questions posed to Gibb.

Prior said he “didn’t appreciate” the state’s “tactic” and called the motion “last-minute-quarterbacking.”

“They’re trying to handcuff me from going to areas they may find a little sensitive to their case,” Prior said.

Third witness, Mark Saari

Wood questioned Special Agent Mark Saari, with the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. He was involved in the case to investigate the location of the children when they went missing and determine whether there was any possible Social Security fraud.

Saari detailed the events of Tylee Ryan’s biological father, Joe Ryan, her third husband, who died while he was still married to Lori Vallow Daybell, then Lori Ryan. Saari said Tylee Ryan had been receiving $1,859 in social security for her dad’s death, and Lori Vallow Daybell was the representative payee.

On Aug. 20, 2019, Saari said Lori Vallow changed the payments’ location, sending them to a new account. This was less than a month from the last day Tylee was seen alive.

Saari also detailed an amount of $1,951 which was paid to JJ Vallow in Social Security payments, that were also sent to his representative payee, Lori Vallow.

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Judge bars prosecutor from taking stand in Chad Daybell trial