ST. ANTHONY — Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Chad Daybell, the man accused of killing his former wife and his current wife’s two children.
Daybell and his wife Lori Vallow Daybell are accused of various crimes, including first-degree murder for the deaths of Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow — Lori’s two children. The couple was indicted in May by a Fremont County grand jury.
Chad has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
In court documents filed Thursday, Special Prosecutor Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake say the death penalty can be used in any or all three first-degree murder charges filed against Daybell. Additionally, it can be used for any of the conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charges.
The prosecutors cited several reasons why this case is eligible for the death penalty:
- The alleged murders were “committed for remuneration” (financial gain).
- The alleged murders were “especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or manifesting exceptional depravity.”
- The defendant exhibited “an utter disregard for human life.”
- The defendant has exhibited “a propensity to commit murder and will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.”
The prosecutors issued the following statement about their decision to seek the death penalty:
Today we filed our Notice of Intention to seek the death penalty against Chad Daybell. Our process in making this determination was lengthy and comprehensive.
We conferred with those immediate family members of JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan and Tammy Daybell, who have indicated a willingness to speak with us and allowed them an opportunity to provide their input if they wished to do so.
The ultimate decision to seek capital punishment rests with the State, and after completing the entire process, we determined that the nature and magnitude of these crimes warrant the possibility of the highest possible punishment.
This determination applies only to Chad Daybell.
While Chad’s case progresses through the court system, Lori’s case remains stayed or paused after a mental health expert deemed her not competent to assist in her defense. On June 8, District Judge Steven Boyce committed Lori to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to undergo mental health treatment.
JJ and Tylee’s bodies were found buried in the backyard of Chad Daybell’s Salem property. Court documents show Tylee’s body was dismembered and burned while JJ’s body was wrapped in tight black plastic and secured with gray duct tape.
Tammy Daybell’s death occurred inside her home and was initially deemed from natural causes. However, questions were later raised, and the body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed. The autopsy report, along with other evidence, led prosecutors to seek the murder and conspiracy charges.
Chad is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 30 ahead of the already scheduled November jury trial.