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Prosecutors in Daybell case request DNA testing on hair, shovel, pickax and other evidence

Daybell Case

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ST. ANTHONY — Prosecutors in the Chad and Lori Daybell murder cases are asking a judge to allow comprehensive DNA testing on several pieces of evidence.

The couple was charged a year ago with multiple counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

In a motion filed Monday, Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake and Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood asked Judge Steven Boyce to allow them to test the following items:

  • Hairs on duct tape inside a body bag used to transport the remains of JJ
  • Ridge detail (fingerprints) on the adhesive side of tape associated with JJ’s body
  • Small dark spots on the handles of a shovel and pickax recovered from a garage/barn
  • Swabs of tape areas
  • Swabs from fingernails from JJ’s right hand obtained during his autopsy

Prosecutors are asking for consumptive testing on the items, which means testing can only be done one time as this type of testing would obliterate the evidence.

Wood originally wanted consumptive DNA performed in April 2021, according to court documents, but Chad and Lori’s attorneys objected. Lori’s case was then put on hold when she was placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. She was found competent for trial in April 2022.

In the motion filed this week, prosecutors note they have not had consumptive testing done on any materials up to this point but ask Boyce to now allow it.

Defense attorneys often have someone observe or videotape consumptive testing as it can only be done once.

The testing would normally be conducted at the Idaho State Police Forensic Services (ISPFS) Laboratory in Meridian, but Lab Manager Rylene Nowlin submitted an affidavit asking Boyce to have it done elsewhere.

“I affirm our (manual) restricts visitors from operational areas of the laboratory due to the risk of contamination and disruption of work,” Nowlin wrote. “Due to the contamination risk, the risk of distraction that could lead to errors caused by having someone video the laboratory analysis, and the necessary shutdown of all other work in the laboratory during filming, the laboratory requests to have samples analyzed by an independent accredited DNA laboratory instead of requiring ISPFS to video analysis.”

Nowlin confirms in her affidavit that testing performed on the items requested would consume them during analysis.

Prosecutors requested that Boyce schedule a hearing on the motion. It had not been set as of Tuesday afternoon.

Chad and Lori Daybell have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Their trials will be held together in Ada County and are scheduled for January 2023.

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