The judge splits the trials of Lori and Chad Daybell in a triple murder count

Both have pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of two children.

(John Roark | The Idaho Post-Register) Chad Daybell appears during a court hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, August 4, 2020.

St. Anthony, Idaho • A couple charged in a bizarre, doomsday-focused triple murder count will face separate trials, an Idaho judge ruled Thursday.

Seventh Circuit Judge Steven Boyce ruled that Lori Vallow Daybell would stand trial on April 3 as scheduled, but Chad Daybell’s trial would occur at a later date, reported.

Chad Daybell has waived his right to a speedy trial, and his lawyers said they needed more time to review DNA evidence recently returned from testing. But Vallow Daybell has not waived her right to a speedy trial, and therefore her case must proceed as planned, Boyce said.

“I have to weigh those defendants’ rights in this case,” Boyce said. “Severance pay is the only option I see.”

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection with the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and Tylee Ryan, who were last seen days before her 17th birthday . They are also being charged in connection with the October 2019 death of Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell. If convicted, they face the death penalty.

(Tony Blakeslee | East Idaho News via AP) Lori Vallow Daybell, center, sits between her attorneys for a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho on August 16, 2022.

Prosecutors had previously urged the couple to be tried together, citing in part the cost of conducting two trials, each expected to last weeks. However, the judge found that prosecutors failed to turn over DNA evidence – a hair found at the scene – to defense attorneys in a timely manner. Chad Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, said he needed to have his own hair tests done because the results could be crucial to Daybell’s defense.

“This evidence, from my perspective at least, provides a potential explanation for where Mr. Daybell and I are going in this particular case,” Prior said. “I need to have an opportunity to review this evidence.”

Prosecutors say the couple used doomsday-focused religious beliefs to advance a plot to kill Lori Vallow Daybell’s two children and Chad Daybell’s former wife as part of a conspiracy to steal Social Security and insurance funds.

Idaho law enforcement began investigating the couple in November 2019 after extended family members reported the children were missing. During that time, police said the couple lied about the children’s whereabouts. Their bodies were later found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in rural Idaho.

The couple married just two weeks after the unexpected death of Chad Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell. Tammy Daybell’s death was originally reported as a natural death, but investigators had her body exhumed after becoming suspicious when Chad Daybell quickly remarried.

Lori Vallow Daybell is also separately charged with conspiracy to murder in Arizona in connection with the July 2019 death of her former husband Charles Vallow. He was shot by Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, who claimed it was in self-defense.

The Arizona court case is staying while the Idaho case is pending. The judge splits the trials of Lori and Chad Daybell in a triple murder count

Justin Scaccy

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