Chad Daybell: Idaho jury deliberations resume on sentencing man facing possible death penalty for three murders


After returning a guilty verdict in Chad Daybell’s triple murder trial, an Idaho jury moved on Saturday morning they will deliberate to determine whether he will receive the death penalty for killing his first wife and two children from his second wife.

Daybell was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and two of his second wife’s children — 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow — in a case prosecutors alleged that the case was fueled by power, sex, money and apocalyptic spiritual beliefs.

The sequestered jury began deliberating his fate Friday afternoon and deliberated on the case for six hours before ending for the night. Jurors continued their deliberations Saturday around 8:30 a.m. MT, according to the Ada County Courthouse.

If the jury decides that Daybell will not be sentenced to death, the judge will sentence him to life in prison.

Jurors heard contrasting portraits of the man from lawyers before beginning deliberations.

In his opening statement to the jury on Friday, prosecutor Rob Wood asked them to consider aggravating factors that would make Daybell eligible for the death penalty.

First, he said, the three murders were committed for pay. Daybell was also convicted of insurance fraud stemming from life insurance policies that allegedly made him money after the death of his first wife. His second wife, as well as Daybell, were also convicted of theft because she continued to receive Social Security benefits for her children after their deaths.

Furthermore, Wood told the jury, the murders of the three victims were “particularly heinous, heinous or cruel, and demonstrated exceptional depravity.”

“This defendant showed total disregard for human life,” Wood added. “The suspect, by his conduct, whether before, during or after the commission of the murders, has demonstrated a propensity to commit murder, which is likely to pose an ongoing threat to society.”

The prosecutor concluded: “It is your decision whether one or more of these perpetrators have been proven. And if so, you must decide whether, under these circumstances, imposing the death penalty would be just or unjust.”

The verdict came about a year after Daybell’s second wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was also convicted of murdering her children and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was also convicted of conspiring to kill Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell has appealed her convictions to the state Supreme Court, with her legal team raising questions about whether she was mentally competent to stand trial.

Authorities have said they believe Tylee and JJ were killed in September 2019 — the month they were last seen — and that Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho home on Oct. 19, 2019, a few weeks before Chad Daybell married Vallow. Day bell.

In his address to the jury Friday, John Prior portrayed Daybell as a once “quiet, reserved, shy young man” who grew up in Springville, Utah, a small, close-knit “town of faith.” Daybell, his attorney said, met his first wife, Tammy, and they were married for 29 years, raising five “wonderful” children “very deep in their faith, very deep in their commitment to family.”

But Daybell’s life changed in late 2018, Prior said, when he met Vallow Daybell, who had been married several times.

“Not all that glitters is gold,” he told the judges. “Lori Vallow shone. She wasn’t gold. She was the trajectory that changed the plan… Chaos strikes and all these things start to gain momentum and this thing becomes very complicated and difficult.

Prior said the new relationship with Vallow was like “this bomb dropped” on the life of “the small town boy from Springville.”

“We have to look back at that,” he said. “You’re investigating what Chad Daybell’s past was before the bomb was dropped, the Lori Vallow bomb. If that stretch didn’t come in and the path changed, would we be going here? It’s not where we were going.”

Kyle Green/AP

Larry Woodcock receives a hug after the verdict in the Chad Daybell murder trial is read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Jurors also heard from relatives of the victims on Friday.

“It makes me angry and it kills me to know that Tammy was treated the way she was treated,” Tammy Daybell’s father, Ron Douglas, told jurors. “I find it comforting to know that Tammy is resting peacefully in Utah, buried alone and close to her beloved mother.”

Kay Woodcock spoke about her grandson JJ and her step-niece Tylee.

“I sit here today trying to explain the immense pain that I and everyone in my family continue to endure on a daily basis,” she said. “But how do I do that?”

“I can tell you that there have been too many situations over the years where we have been criticized for JJ not reaching another milestone,” she said of her grandson. “The constant question remains: who would he have become? What kind of man would he have been?”

Woodcock remembered Tylee as “the most precious, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl” and an “absolute mama’s girl.”

Woodcock tearfully added: “There is a hole in my heart, in the hearts of every member of my family, that can never be filled and will remain for the rest of my life.”

Tylee’s aunt, Annie Cushing, remembered walking around the house singing with “the voice of an angel.”

“Tylee had her whole life ahead of her. She had dignity, she had dreams, she had goals. This defendant stole all of that,” Cushing said.

Kelsee Douglas, Tammy’s sister-in-law, told jurors that “pain, broken relationships and unhealed wounds are all part of the aftermath” of the murders.

“This is the legacy of fear and sadness that will haunt our family for generations,” she added.

Tammy’s brother, Michael Douglas, complained that “the nightmare food I’ve been fed will last a lifetime.”

Daybell declined to address the court after the victim impact statements.

Law enforcement officers found Tylee and JJ’s remains on Chad Daybell’s Fremont County estate in June 2020, authorities said.

“It’s a sad day. JJ would have been 12 years old,” JJ’s grandfather, Larry Woodcock, said Thursday after the sentencing.

Woodcock thought about the victims and asked the same question over and over.

“What have they achieved? Nothing. What did they do? They destroyed families,” Woodcock said of Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell.

But the defendants, Larry Woodcock said, couldn’t destroy the memories family members have of the victims. “They can’t bear that,” he added, at one point becoming emotional. When he heard the jury’s verdict in court, he said, he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Tony Blakeslee/Pool/Eastern Idaho News

Lori Vallow Daybell sits during her sentencing hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, Monday, July 31, 2023.

‘Sex, money and power’ were central to the process

During the opening statements, the prosecutor and defense attorney painted contrasting portraits of the suspect.

The state described him as a power-hungry and grandiose man who would stop at nothing for ‘what he considered his rightful destiny’. His attorney portrayed Daybell as a religious man driven into an unhappy relationship by a “beautiful, vibrant woman” who knew “how to get what she wanted.”

“Two dead children buried in defendant Chad Daybell’s backyard,” Wood said in his first words to the jury at the start of the trial.

“The following month, his wife is found dead in their marital bed. Seventeen days after the death of his wife, Tammy Daybell, this defendant is photographed laughing and dancing on a beach in Hawaii during his wedding to Lori Vallow, a woman who was his mistress and the mother of the children buried in the graves at his territory. . Three dead bodies.”

When Daybell was “given the opportunity for what he considered his rightful destiny,” Wood said, “he made sure that no person and no law would stand in his way.”

“His desire for sex, money and power drove him to pursue these ambitions,” the prosecutor added. “And this pursuit led to the deaths of his wife and Lori’s two innocent children.”

Tammy Daybell was initially believed to have died in her sleep, and Chad Daybell remarried less than three weeks after her death in 2019.

Prior said Daybell’s life began to change after he met Vallow Daybell, a “beautifully stunning woman” who “began to give him a lot of attention” and eventually lured him into an “inappropriate” and “unfortunate” extramarital relationship.

Vallow Daybell’s two children from a previous marriage were last seen on separate days in September 2019. Tylee Ryan was a “normal, lively teenage girl” who loved her friends, and her little brother, JJ, was on the autism spectrum and needed special care. according to Hout.

In late November 2019, family members asked police in Rexburg, Idaho, to do a welfare check on JJ since they hadn’t spoken to him lately. Police did not find him at the family home, but did see Vallow Daybell and Daybell, who said JJ was staying with a family friend in Arizona, according to authorities.

When police returned the next day with a search warrant, the couple was gone. They were eventually found in Hawaii in January 2020.

In June 2020, law enforcement officials found Tylee and JJ’s remains on Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho. Vallow Daybell and Daybell were charged with murder in May 2021.

According to prosecutors, Tylee was killed between September 8 and 9, 2019, and JJ between September 22 and 23.

“We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us, and we only hope that they died without pain or suffering,” the children’s families said in a statement after the remains were found.