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Defense asks grand jury to clarify charging language in Daybell indictment

Daybell Case

REXBURG – Motions have been filed from the defense attorneys of Lori Vallow Daybell to clarify the language in the grand jury indictment against her and her husband, Chad Daybell.

Lori Daybell’s defense team argues that two of the counts listed in the indictment are too complicated because they each include two separate allegations.

Counts one and three in the official indictment, which was filed on May 25, 2021, are both labeled, “Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception.”

Count one against the Daybells indicts them for conspiracy to commit the first-degree murder of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and grand theft by deception, for wrongfully continuing to collect five monthly Social Security Survivor benefits on behalf of Tylee.

Count three indicts the couple for conspiracy to commit the first-degree murder of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and grand theft by deception, for wrongfully continuing to collect four monthly Social Security Survivor benefits on behalf of JJ, and four monthly Social Security child-in-care payments.

According to Idaho Code, an indictment must be “direct and certain.” The defense argues that because there are two separate crimes, a jury could easily be confused on how to rule for two crimes when both of them are included in one count. The defense asks that the grand jury re-deliberate and amend the indictment so both alleged crimes are tried as their own count.

According to the motions filed, “the crimes as currently stated do not meet the elements of a single crime, but in fact, lumps two crimes into one allegation making it a general felony for possible punishment purposes at sentencing.”

The defense also argues that although there is a punishment for each of the charges on their own, there is no single punishment for when those two charges are lumped together.

Lori and Chad Daybell are charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of JJ and Tylee — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. They have both pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against both Chad and Lori.

Lori and Chad are scheduled to stand trial together on Jan. 9, 2023.

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