It’s a complex case involving multiple states, several law enforcement agencies, “voluminous” amounts of evidence and thousands of investigative hours. Now, after more than three years, the trial for Lori Vallow Daybell is finally scheduled to begin in Ada County on April 3.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to get you up to speed on the eastern Idaho case that had made headlines around the world.
Who is on trial and why?
Lori Vallow Daybell is on trial charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and grand theft.
She and her husband, Chad Daybell, along with her brother, Alex Cox, are accused of killing Lori’s children — 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow — and Chad’s former wife, Tammy Daybell. Alex Cox died in Dec. 2019.
Lori and Chad were indicted by a Fremont County Grand Jury in May 2021 on the following charges:
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the death of Tylee Ryan
- First-degree murder for the death of Tylee Ryan
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the death of JJ Vallow
- First-degree murder for the death of JJ Vallow
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell, her husband’s former wife
- Grand theft
You can read the indictment here.
When and where did these alleged crimes occur?
Investigators believe Tylee Ryan was killed Sept. 9, 2019. JJ Vallow died on or around Sept. 23, 2019 and Tammy Daybell died Oct. 19, 2019 in her Salem home. The remains of Tylee and JJ were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property on June 9, 2020.
If the alleged crimes happened in Fremont County, why is the trial being held in Ada County?
District Judge Steven Boyce granted a change of venue motion in Oct. 2021 and moved the trial to Ada County after John Prior, Chad’s attorney, argued pre-trial publicity would affect the ability to find a fair and impartial jury in Fremont County.
Chad and Lori’s trials were joined until March 2023, when Boyce severed the cases.
Where can I watch the trial?
Boyce has banned media cameras from broadcasting or livestreaming the trial. Members of the public can watch proceedings in the courtroom and an overflow location at the Ada County Courthouse. It will also be transmitted to a room in the Madison County Courthouse.
How long is the trial expected to last?
The trial, including jury selection and deliberations, could last up to ten weeks but will likely be shorter.
How many people are on the jury and when will they be chosen?
Twelve people will serve on the jury and it’s likely there will be at least two alternate jurors. Potential jurors who receive notices in the mail will report to the Ada County Courthouse on March 27 and 28 to complete questionnaires. Jury selection will begin on April 3 and it could take up to a week for a jury to be finalized.
Who are Lori Daybell’s attorneys?
Lori Daybell has two court-appointed attorneys. Jim Archibald has been a public defender for over 30 years and has been assigned to 27 murder cases. John Thomas has been a defense attorney since 2005 and previously worked as a prosecutor in Bingham County.
Who are the prosecutors?
There are three main prosecutors: Rob Wood, who has been the Madison County Prosecuting Attorney since 2020 after serving five years in the office as a deputy. Lindsey Blake is the Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney, elected in 2020. Rachel Smith is a prosecutor from Missouri with over 25 years of experience in homicide and death penalty cases. Spencer Rammell and Tawyna Rawlings are also on the prosecution’s team.
Who is the judge in the case?
District Judge Steven Boyce presides over the case. Idaho Gov. Brad Little appointed him to the bench in May 2019. Boyce practiced law in eastern Idaho for 20 years.
Why isn’t Chad Daybell on trial with his wife?
The indictment includes charges were for both Chad and Lori. Their cases were connected and they set to stand trial together until March 2023 when Boyce severed the cases. This came after John Prior, Chad’s attorney, argued he would not have enough time for his expert to test pending DNA evidence by the time the trial was scheduled to begin. A new date for Chad’s trial has not been set.
If found guilty, what type of sentence is Lori Daybell facing?
Who decides Lori Daybell’s sentence and how does the process work?
If a jury returns a guilty verdict, Boyce will likely order a pre-sentence investigation before handing down a sentence. That can take several weeks or months. Lori’s attorneys and prosecutors will recommend sentences and victims will be permitted to submit impact statements or speak during the sentencing hearing before Boyce issues his decision.
How much money will the trial cost?
Chad and Lori’s cases cost taxpayers $3.6 million between 2019-2022. This includes personnel, investigation costs and other expenses with law enforcement, the prosecution and public defenders. Prosecutors estimated moving the trials to Ada County will cost Madison and Fremont Counties an estimated $600,000 more, but that was before the trials were severed.
How can I get updates on the trial?
EastIdahoNews.com will provide live written updates from the courtroom every day the trial is in session. Nate Eaton will host “Courtroom Insider: The Lori Daybell case” live from Boise weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on EastIdahoNews.com, our YouTube channel, Facebook page and on Nate’s Facebook page. You can also sign up here for the Daybell Digest – a free nightly newsletter recapping the events from the courtroom each day. A Daybell section on the free EastIdahoNews.com app also has all the information.
Since cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom, can I listen to the proceedings or see any images during the trial?
East Idaho News has worked with other media to hire an artist who will provide sketches from inside the courtroom each day. We will post audio recordings from the courtroom each day on EastIdahoNews.com where you can listen to the proceedings.
Will Lori Daybell also stand trial in Arizona on charges?
Lori Daybell is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Arizona in connection with the death of her previous husband Charles Vallow. A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office tells EastIdahoNews.com Daybell’s Idaho case will run its course before she faces the charge in Arizona.
Where can I read old stories and watch old videos about the case?
You can find all of our old stories, videos, a timeline, “who’s who” and everything else you need to know about the case here.