Prosecutor refutes allegations of misconduct made by Daybell attorneys
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ST. ANTHONY — Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood is denying any sort of misconduct in the case of Chad and Lori Daybell following accusations made by defense attorneys this week.
The latest conflict in the Chad and Lori Daybell case began after Lori’s attorney, Mark Means, and Chad’s attorney, John Prior, filed motions to disqualify Wood as the prosecutor on the cases. Wood is serving in his capacity as Madison County Prosecuting Attorney in Lori’s case and acting as a Special Prosecutor in Fremont County for Chad’s case.
The defense attorneys claim they recently received an audio recording between Wood and Summer Shiflet, a material witness and the biological sister of Lori. Also on the recording was Zulema Pastenes, another material witness in the case who is a former associate of Chad and Lori Daybell. The recordings were made at an Arizona police station in October.
In his filing, Means alleges the recording clearly illustrates Wood’s “attempt to coerce, unduly influence, coach, and or intimidate Shiflet.” With regards to Pastenes, Means said the recording shows Wood discussing “things that support the state’s position of the case.”
Prior’s filed his motion to disqualify after Means and it is nearly identical to a section from Means’s motion.
Both defense attorneys allege prosecutor misconduct in the recording, which might prevent their clients from having a fair trial. They claim Wood violated Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct and assert that his actions might be construed as witness tampering or intimidating. Means further asserts that Wood has made himself a material witness in the case and that he intends to subpoena the prosecutor as a witness to support these and future motions.
The attorneys ask the court to deny Wood from taking any further action in the Chad and Lori Daybell cases.
Wood responded to the motions Wednesday.
He maintains he did not coerce, unduly influence, coach, and or intimidate any witnesses. He calls the allegations meritless and says that during meetings with Shiflet and Pastenas, both were accompanied by their own legal counsel. Wood says the meetings were introductory in nature, and not investigative. Additionally, the meetings happened prior to interviews with Arizona law enforcement that Wood says he did not participate in.
Wood says Shiflet’s and Pastenas’s attorney did not object to any of his statements or questions during the interaction, nor has he in the two months since the recordings were made. Wood affirms he did not make the recordings or consent to be recorded.
Wood asks the judge for a hearing on this matter and objects to any extension of time for the defense on these motions.
The audio referenced in this case has not been made public by anyone involved in the case.
In addition to his response to Means’ and Prior’s motion, Wood has also filed for a temporary judicial protection order that would prevent the parties, witnesses, potential witnesses, victims, victim/witness coordinators, law enforcement officers and court personnel from discussing the motions to disqualify or the exhibits on social media or with news media. The requested protection order asks that correspondence or communications between parties not be given to news media or posted on social media.
The Daybells are charged with felonies related to the concealment, alteration and destruction of the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, Lori’s two children. In June, investigators found the bodies buried on Chad’s Salem property.
A date for the hearing has not been set.