REXBURG — Law enforcement conducted DNA testing on tools seized from Chad Daybell’s property and a possible blood sample found at an apartment.
That’s according to court documents filed Tuesday by Madison County Special Prosecutor Rob Wood in connection to the Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell case. Both are charged with conspiracy to conceal or destroy evidence, and Chad is charged with concealment/destruction of evidence after the bodies of Lori’s children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were found buried on Chad’s Salem property last summer.
Wood’s filing comes in response to a motion from John Prior, Chad’s attorney, and Mark Means, Lori’s attorney. The defense lawyers asked Judge Steven Boyce for an expedited hearing in regards to DNA testing being conducted by law enforcement.
That hearing was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon but was postponed as both Wood and the defense attorneys are requesting information from the state lab so they could potentially reach an agreement on the issue.
The hearing was scheduled after Prior asked Boyce to order the prosecution to do the following:
- Not pursue any testing on remaining DNA samples until the defense can obtain half of all samples for their own testing.
- Provide all records, reports and documentation related to testing that has already been performed.
- Allow the defendant’s DNA expert to go directly to any lab to review, copy, photograph and document procedures that will be done in the future or have been done in the past.
- Provide to the defense any and all evidence related to DNA testing in the case.
Wood responded by stating the investigation into Tylee and JJ’s deaths is ongoing and any evidence in his possession has already been provided to Prior and Means.
“When updated or new discoverable reports are received, they will be given over to both defendants on an ongoing basis,” Wood wrote. “Since the investigation’s inception, numerous items of evidentiary value have been collected; many of which are suitable for forensic analysis and testing. The reports reflecting the seizure of these items have been produced to the defense.”
Wood referenced one report about the seizure of tools that are taking a long time to test because of COVID-19 delays and backlogs at forensic laboratories.
“On April 12, 2021, the State received the results of DNA analysis of debris found on tools that were seized from Chad Daybell’s property,” Wood said. “The State also learned that some samples obtained from the examined items were possibly suited for DNA analysis but that those samples were of such size and quantity that the testing process itself would consume the entirety of the sample(s).”
Wood said on April 18, he received another report from the state lab “regarding a possible blood sample from an apartment that would require consumptive testing to test the DNA.” He did not specify which apartment the sample came from, but Lori and her brother, Alex, lived at separate apartments in Rexburg when the children disappeared in September 2019.
Three days after receiving the report about the apartment sample, Wood said he sent the lab results to the defense attorneys along with a letter saying he planned to ask the state lab to perform testing.
“Both defendants wrote the State and told the State they objected to this without their experts having a chance to review the materials,” Wood wrote. “On (April 22), the State sent the Defense an email informing them that due to their requests, the State would not immediately seek the consumptive testing and asked the Defense to send the State the names of their experts within 14 days. The State offered to facilitate the defense experts’ access to and examination of the sample(s) in question.”
Wood said that he is entitled to test evidence “to achieve a fair and just result” and noted that forensic testing is common.
- He has no objection to the defense experts examining items in evidence within a reasonable timeline established by the court.
- The prosecution has a certified and accredited forensic laboratory ready and able to perform analysis without cost to either party once the defense examination of the sample(s) and questions have been completed.
- Should defense experts be able to arrange an appropriate protocol for observing the testing procedures agreeable to the state’s experts, the state will agree to those experts observing the testing processes.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Wood agreed to hold off on any testing that would completely consume evidence until information is received from the state lab. Both parties could then work out an agreement or request that Boyce resolve the issue.