Forensic pathologist called by defense says Tammy Daybell’s cause of death ‘undetermined’

May 21, 2024, 1:31 PM | Updated: 5:29 pm

BOISE — A forensic pathologist called by the defense in the Chad Daybell murder trial testified the death of Chad’s longtime wife, Tammy Daybell, is best classified as “undetermined.”

Dr. Kathy Raven took the stand Tuesday as defense attorney John Prior continued calling witnesses in the high-profile case.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

Raven, who is based in California, said she reviewed autopsy reports of Tammy Daybell – whom Chad Daybell is accused of murdering in October 2019 – along with her death certificate, and law enforcement and coroner reports.

“Since we don’t know exactly what happened, we call it undetermined,” Raven said, “and that’s what I would have called this.”

But Utah’s Office of the Medical Examiner concluded Tammy Daybell died from asphyxia by homicide. Prosecutors sought to discount Raven’s testimony by listing a slew of reports reviewed by Utah officials in examining Tammy Daybell’s death, and asking if Raven looked at any of them in her work for the defense.

Raven said she did not.

Prior also asked Raven about seizures and arrhythmia as possible causes of death for Tammy Daybell. But under cross-examination from prosecutors, Raven said she did not identify any structural defect with Tammy’s heart, nor did she review any of Tammy’s medical records that mentioned seizures or shaking.

Chad Daybell is also accused of killing two children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, while he was having an affair with their mother, Lori Vallow, whom he ended up marrying. Lori Vallow Daybell was convicted in 2023 in this same case.

This trial has lasted several weeks and has included dozens of witnesses. Chad Daybell could face the death penalty if convicted.

Jurors in the trial also heard Tuesday from Joseph Murray, son-in-law to Chad Daybell, and Reegan Price, one of the Daybells’ neighbors in Salem, Idaho.

They also heard brief testimony from Asmir Kararic, Idaho Attorney General’s Office investigator, and Rick Schmitt, a former Rexburg police detective.

On Monday, people packed the courtroom to hear from the first witnesses called by the defense. Emma Murray and Garth Daybell, Chad Daybell’s son and daughter, both testified their mother had health problems prior to her death in October 2019.

Their testimony contradicted statements from other family members and co-workers who said Tammy Daybell was in good health before she died.

The courtroom was still fairly full Tuesday, although with fewer people than the day before. The court adjourned early Tuesday afternoon, with the trial set to continue again Wednesday morning with more witnesses called by the defense.

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Forensic pathologist called by defense says Tammy Daybell’s cause of death ‘undetermined’