ST. ANTHONY – A local judge says an out-of-state veteran homicide attorney can join the prosecution team against Chad Daybell.
However, that is not yet determined in the case against his wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, due to a previous sealed court order suspending all upcoming hearings. The first 30 minutes of the hearing were in a breakout session, which was likely related to those sealed court orders.
District Judge Steven Boyce decided on Chad’s case to allow Rachel Smith — a Missouri special prosecutor with over 100 homicide and death penalty cases to her name – to help Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood’s team.
“This is a very complicated case,” Wood told Boyce. “The amount of discovery as we talked about is very large. There is a lot of information, so we’re seeking to have her help in this case through the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office through a Special Prosecutor.”
The judge’s only concerns about the move, which were echoed by Defense Attorney John Prior, were some housekeeping issues. Namely, that the case is in Fremont County, while Wood is asking for Smith to join the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office. Boyce was concerned that Fremont County would have to weigh in on the appointment. Woods, however, said he planned to essentially deputize Smith, and Boyce said he was OK with that once the court received a written filing to that effect.
Boyce’s other concern was whether Smith maintains a current law practice in Missouri. Smith, who was present with Wood, testified that she does currently operate a practice, which also satisfied the judge’s concern.
Smith is going to be paid by Madison County. In a letter sent to the Madison County Commissioners and obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Wood said the enormous amount of work on the case and a comparatively smaller team make it difficult to keep up with the day-to-day work. The commission approved the request.
The Daybells have pleaded not guilty to felonies related to the alterations, destruction and concealment of the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, two of Lori’s children. Investigators found the remains buried in the backyard of Chad’s Salem home in June 2020. The case is currently in Fremont County, where Wood is acting in the role of Special Prosecutor.
Near the end of the hearing, Prior said all his concerns had been satisfied. Mark Means, Lori’s attorney, did not speak during the public portion of the hearing.
The next hearing in the Daybell case is scheduled for a status conference on April 7.