What’s next in the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell as it nears end

May 28, 2024, 10:53 AM | Updated: 11:48 am

Chad Daybell leaning over and whispering to his lawyer, John Prior during his murder trial...

Chad Daybell leaning over, whispering to his lawyer John Prior during his murder trial on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Daybell is accused of killing three people. (Judge Steven W. Boyce via YouTube)

(Judge Steven W. Boyce via YouTube)

BOISE — After a long weekend recess from the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell, the trial resumed Tuesday with prosecutors calling witnesses back to the stand for rebuttal testimony.

Daybell is accused of killing his wife of 28 years, Tammy Daybell, and two of his new wife’s children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow. His new wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was previously convicted in the same case, and found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. She also awaits a second trial for further murder conspiracy charges filed in the state of Arizona.

Judge Steven Boyce said closing arguments in the high-profile case will begin mid-morning Wednesday, after which the jury will get the case and begin deliberating.

Trial summary

After jury selection, opening arguments began on April 10. In just over a month it took to make their case, prosecutors called groups of people who had testified previously at the trial for Lori Vallow Daybell, and new witnesses like members of Chad Daybell’s family, neighbors, and coworkers of his late wife Tammy Daybell.

After the prosecutors rested their case, Boyce found a critical error in court documents they filed. The indictment listed JJ Vallow’s death dates incorrectly, and Chad Daybell’s lawyer, John Prior, filed a motion to remove the murder charge for JJ Vallow altogether.

Boyce dismissed the motion and classified the error as an inadvertent mistake.

The defense then began calling witnesses starting May 16. Largely, the defense’s case depended heavily on a forensic pathologist who was called, Dr. Kathy Raven, who said that Tammy Daybell’s death is best classified as “undetermined.”

Rebuttal witnesses

After the defense rested its case Thursday, and Chad Daybell told the judge he would not testify, the court took a four-day recess over Memorial Day weekend.

On Tuesday, prosecutors had planned to call Rexburg police detective Ray Hermosillo and Tammy Daybell’s former co-worker, Janice Olsen; both of whom had already testified. The defense previously filed a motion to block Olsen from testifying again because she had been watching the trial after her time on the stand.

Chad Daybell’s lawyer, John Prior argued that even though Olsen had been previously cleared by the court to come back, he was concerned about her testimony being “prepped” by prosecutors.

“Each time, magically, she seems to change her testimony and modify her testimony. Ironically enough, both times the testimony changed to help the state!” Prior said. “It’s shocking.”

Judge Boyce ultimately ruled that it wouldn’t be fair to the defense if Olsen were allowed back on the stand.

Possibility of death penalty for Chad Daybell

Prosecutors finished rebuttal testimony early Tuesday, and jurors and the public were excused for the day. In the trial’s next step, prosecutors and the defense will prepare for closing arguments. The trial will then conclude its evidence phase and jurors will deliberate. If the jury decides on a guilty verdict, Skordas said the trial will then enter the penalty phase.

Unlike the trial for Lori Vallow Daybell, the penalty phase will allot the same jurors a few weeks to decide whether or not they could impose the death penalty. Those few weeks do not have to be immediately following the first phase, and Skordas estimated that Boyce will give the defense and prosecution time to prepare.

“In Chad’s case, the jury has to say, ‘Yes, I will support the law … I will follow the law and if the evidence is there, I will vote for his death,” Skordas said.

Skordas said the penalty phase will focus more on Chad Daybell as a person.

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

Closing arguments were scheduled for “mid-morning” Wednesday.

Contributing: Becky Bruce, KSLNewsRadio

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What’s next in the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell as it nears end