LIVE UPDATES FROM THE LORI VALLOW DAYBELL TRIAL
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic details. Reader discretion is advised.
4 p.m. Here are the sketches from today.
3:20 p.m. The trial is now dismissed for the day. Gwilliam will be back on the stand tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. Join me tonight at 7:30 p.m. for “Courtroom Insider” on my Facebook page and the EastIdahoNews.com YouTube channel.
3:17 p.m. Tammy came to visit Samantha two weeks prior and Samantha says she was perfectly healthy. She was in a clogging class and training for a small race. It was an unusual visit because Tammy came by herself and said Chad told her to come. Samantha says Tammy never indicated that she thought Chad was having an affair. In 2019, “something seemed off with them when they stayed with us and Chad wouldn’t converse with my husband.” In July, Tammy showed up with Samantha’s birthday present. She gave it to her on the porch and only stayed about 20 minutes. Chad did not get out of the car and they showed up unannounced. “It was really weird”
3:15 p.m. When they lived in Utah, Tammy worked as a special ed secretary and was very good with computers. Chad was part of the cemetery grounds crew and dug graves. The morning Tammy died, Chad called Samantha and said Tammy had ben really sick “and that she had been coughing all night. She had gotten up with a coughing fit around midnight and went back to sleep. He was awakened by her that morning when she rolled out of bed dead.”
3:13 p.m. Gwilliam says she liked Chad when he and Tammy started to date. He treated Tammy well and Chad and Jason, Gwilliam’s husband, were good friends. Tammy and Chad lived two blocks away from the Gwilliams in Springville, Utah and they saw each other every day. Tammy did not want to move to Idaho but Chad had the idea they needed to move.
3:12 p.m. A photo of Tammy is shown on the screen. Gwilliam says there are five kids in the family and she and Tammy were the only two girls. “We were far enough that we didn’t fight but close enough that we got along really well.” Gwilliam and Tammy talked every day and did everything together with their children.
3:11 p.m. Blake shows Gwilliam a photo and asks if she knows the person. Gwilliam starts to cry and says, “It’s my sister.”
3:10 p.m. Gwilliam says Tammy loved animals and loved to take care of them. She was introverted but “loved people and loved taking care of them. She loved her grandkids.”
3:08 p.m. Gwilliam says there is a little dog statue that was put at the pet cemetery after her niece’s dog died. Blake now shows a picture of the property and asks Gwilliam to point out where the pet cemetery was on the property.
3:07 p.m. Blake asks Gwilliam if police contacted her about a pet cemetery on Tammy’s property. Gwilliam says yes and she knew where it was because Tammy had shown her the cemetery.
3:06 p.m. Gwilliam is a victim in the case so she has been allowed to sit in the courtroom and can observe other witness testimony.
3:06 p.m. Lindsey Blake called Samantha Gwilliam as the next witness. Gwilliam is Tammy Daybell’s sister.
3:04 p.m. Boyce asks for a quick sidebar with attorneys.
3:03 p.m. There were clouds in the image from the Sept. 9 satellite photo but no smoke or fire. Archibald has no further questions. Wood has a follow-up question and Kunsaitis clarifies that the firepit is obscured by clouds on Sept. 9.
3:01 p.m. “Have you been able to tell if Tylee was burned there on the property or burned somewhere else and transported to the property?” Archibald asks. “I’m not going to speculate. I just know when we moved her remains, you could smell the fuel so that’s what I can speak to,” Kunsaitis responds.
3 p.m. Archibald asks if there is any indication of smoke or fire from Sept. 9 on the Sept. 9 image. Kunsaitis says no. This is the same day Chad Daybell sent Tammy Daybell a text that he was having a fire to burn limb debris.
2:58 p.m. Archibald asks if police asked for all photos from the satellite company. Kunsaitis says they did but only four high-resolution pictures were usable. Archibald asks if it’s a satellite that continually passes over the property every 7 days or a satellite that is stationary. Kunsaitis does not know. He says police had to purchase the images from the company for $1,500.
2:56 p.m. Wood asks if there is anything significant about the discoloration on the image. Kunsaitis says that’s the area where Tylee was found. Wood has no further questions. Archibald is now cross-examining the detective.
2:55 p.m. Kunsaitis points out key features on the property again from that day but there is a large discolored darkened shape in the area of the pet cemetery. Again – this was taken at 12:32 p.m. – less than an hour after police know Alex Cox left the property.
2:53 p.m. Another image is now shown that was taken at 12:32 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2019 showing Daybell’s property. A third image is shown that was taken from the satellite on Sept. 9, 2019 at 12:32 p.m. “That’s the day we believe Tylee was killed and buried on the property,” Kunsaitis says.
2:51 p.m. We are now shown a satellite image over Chad Daybell’s property. Wood zooms in. Kunsaitis uses a laser pointer to point out key features on the property – the shed, the tree, the pet cemetery, etc.
2:48 p.m. Wood asks to admit two exhibits – one containing satellite data and the other containing images.
2:44 p.m. After the bodies were found, Kunsaitis says he saw a news story about satellite imagery over Chad Daybell’s house. He contacted the company featured in the story and requested images of Chad’s backyard from Aug. 1 through the end of October 2019. Police received four images from the satellite imagery company.
2:42 p.m. Wood asks Kunsaitis if he was at Chad Daybell’s property on June 9. Wood asks if he aided in the recovery of Tylee Ryan in the backyard. Kunsaitis says, “Yes.”
2:39 p.m. Boyce is back on the bench and jurors are being brought in. Someone asked how many bailiffs are in the courtroom. There are three in uniforms and two in suits who sit behind Lori. Rexburg Det. Chuck Kunsaitis is called back to the stand as the next witness. He has testified before and is back up today being questioned by Rob Wood.
2:24 p.m. We are on an afternoon break.
2:17 p.m. Smith has no further questions, and the defense has no questions. Martinez is dismissed from the stand.
2:16 p.m. Martinez found another latent print matching Alex Cox’s right palm. So both prints matched Alex.
2:15 p.m. Lori Daybell is taking notes or drawing on a notebook during Martinez’s testimony. She is not paying attention to what is on the screen.
2:14 p.m. Martinez points out an area on the black plastic where she found a latent print. The print matched the right little finger of Alexander Lamar Cox.
2:11 p.m. Martinez used two different processes to try and get prints because there was both plastic and tape. Usable prints were developed on the plastic portion – not on the duct tape portion.
2:10 p.m. We see two images on the screen. The photo on the left is two black plastic bags, and the photo on the right is the body-type bag that held the remains. Martinez processed one of the black plastic bags.
2:10 p.m. Exhibit 210 is admitted at 2:10 p.m. We are now seeing it on the screen.
2:07 p.m. Smith asks to admit an exhibit of a presentation Martinez prepared ahead of trial.
2:05 p.m. She obtained usuable prints off two items. On the first item, she compared the prints to Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, JJ Vallow and Alex Cox. Martinez says she could not reach a definitive match, but she has an inconclusive finding because of the quality of the print.
2:03 p.m. Smith asks Martinez if she was able to develop usable prints on all the items she processed. Martinez was able to develop some but not others.
2:02 p.m. The plastic pieces and duct tape were processed for latent prints. She processed the duct tape that was on JJ’s mouth, ankles and hands.
1:59 p.m. Martinez processed a lab titled “bag around head JJ” and duct tape. A lot of the duct tape was attached to itself, so she had to take it apart from itself. Hairs were collected during the process.
1:58 p.m. She also obtained fingerprints of Alex Cox from police departments in Arizona.
1:57 p.m. Martinez says she was requested to assist Rexburg Police at the coroner’s office to obtain prints from JJ Vallow. Martinez went to the office and got JJ’s fingerprints. She later went to Rexburg and St. Anthony to obtain fingerprints, footprints and hair samples from Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell.
1:55 p.m. Martinez takes the unknown latent prints and compares them with known prints – like from the law enforcement database or prints directly from people. That’s how she can know if there is a match.
1:52 p.m. Martinez describes the general scientific process of obtaining latent prints. Dusting is one way but it all depends on the item.
1:51 p.m. Martinez says people don’t always leave latent prints. Some people have better skin to leave latent prints – they sweat or produce more amino acids. The surface also makes a difference – is it dusty? Is it dirty?
1:50 p.m. Latent means “unseen” so a latent print is something left on a surface that you can’t see but is left behind.
1:48 p.m. Rachel Smith is questioning Martinez. Martinez works as a forensic scientist in the ISP lap. She processes items of evidence to develop latent prints and responds to crime scenes. She has worked in the lab for seven years.
1:47 p.m. Martinez is on crutches, and Boyce says, “We will accommodate any assistance you may need getting up here. Please take your time.”
1:44 p.m. Tara Martinez, an ISP employee, is the next witness. Rob Wood asks for a sidebar, and white noise is played in the courtroom.
1:43 p.m. Wood has one brief follow-up question. Dace is released from the witness stand and is free to go.
1:41 p.m. Dace completed her report in April 2021. She says they only report their results back to the submitting agency, and then it’s up to them if they want to do follow-up testing. The tools did remain in the state lab pending permission to consume the blood stain on the handle of the pick ax. Thomas has no further questions.
1:38 p.m. Thomas asks how many DNA samples have ever been collected. She responds there is a population database from individuals who volunteered their DNA, and it contains around 1,700 samples. There are other databases that could contain other DNA, Dace says.
1:37 p.m. Thomas asks if it’s possible the hair could have been floating around the body bag and gotten stuck to the tape. Dace says it’s posssible.
1:36 p.m. Dace says the tape arrived inside an autopsy bag. Most of the tape was still stuck to the bag, which indicated it had been received that way, she explains.
1:32 p.m. Thomas asks about Dace’s background working in a lab in Texas. He asks about the hair Dace found. She says it was found from a piece of tape.
1:30 p.m. Dace was not able to test the hair, but it was sent to a lab. Wood has no further questions for Dace. Thomas will cross-examine the witness.
1:28 p.m. Dace describes the testing she did on duct tape. We now see images of hairs collected from tape from the plastic and the duct tape the body was wrapped in – not the tape wrapped around his arms.
1:27 p.m. We now see the handle of a pick ax. Wood asks if Dace was able to do a DNA profile from the evidence she collected. Dace was, and it matched Tylee Ryan’s DNA.
1:23 p.m. We are shown a close-up image of material Dace was able to collect. She was able to obtain a partial DNA profile from a female. She compared it to Lori Vallow, Tylee Ryan and perhaps Melanie Gibb. (She doesn’t remember if Melanie Gibb was compared.) Dace says there an extremely high probability the DNA is Tylee’s. (She gave a number, but I didn’t catch it).
1:22 p.m. We now see an image of a pick ax. There is some material on the eye of the pick ax blade. There was some material that was apparently dirt, but the material on the center of the pick ax was dark “with an oily texture. It had a dark, greasy ring around it.”
1:19 p.m. Dace received a DNA sample from Lori Vallow, JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan, Melanie Gibb and Dennis Trahan. Dace compared the DNA profile she obtained on the shovel to others. It matched Tylee Ryan’s DNA. Dace says the probability the DNA is Tylee’s is 604 octillion — that’s 604,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. (27 zeros)
1:17 p.m. We now see a close-up of a photo taken under a microscope showing material tested for DNA. A DNA profile WAS obtained for this sample.
1:16 p.m. We now see an image of the backside of the shovel. There was a “soft texture” on the shovel, so Dace collected it for DNA. She thought it could be biological remains.
1:15 p.m. We now see a photo of another shovel. “I looked for blood and collected debris and other material from the blade of the shovel,” she says.
1:14 p.m. The next photo is a close-up of what Dace collected from the shovel. The next photo shows the piece of material she ran for DNA. Dace was not able to obtain a DNA profile from the sample.
1:13 p.m. The next photo is another shovel. There was material on the shovel that caught her attention. “Some of the shovels had what appeared to look like ash or dirt.” This shovel had something Dace thought could have been flesh.
1:12 p.m. The next image is a close-up of the shovel. The following exhibit shows what Dace collected from the shovel, including the portion she took for DNA analysis. She was not able to generate a DNA profile from the sample.
1:10 p.m. We see an image of a shovel on the screen. Dace took the photo during her exam. She outlined areas she sampled on the shovel.
1:09 p.m. John Thomas flips through the pages of the exhibits, and Lori looks at them as he does so.
1:07 p.m. Wood asks to admit several photos Dace took of the tools and material she collected during her exam.
1:04 p.m. Dace did blood testing on the tools found at Chad’s house. “I found several presumptive positive blood stains on the tools, and on several of the tools, I found what could be charred flesh,” she says. Dace photographed the tools and took samples of the flesh to do DNA testing.
1:04 p.m. Dace tested a knife that was found in Lori’s apartment for blood. It tested negative. A swab on the wall tested a very faint positive for blood.
1:03 p.m. There was blood “all over everything,” Dace says. Wood asks about the chain and pendant. There was no blood on those items.
1:02 p.m. Dace received duct tape from the hand, ankles and mouth. She received duct tape from the plastic bag that was wrapped around the head. “Most of the tape and plastic had apparent blood and decomposition fluid present. I tested all the items for blood, which was positive.” On the tape, she looked for irregular edges that someone may have torn the tape with their teeth and left behind saliva. Dace also collected hair and fibers from the tape.
1 p.m. Dace describes her education history and job responsibilities. Dace received JJ Vallow’s autopsy samples, including hand swabs, nail swabs, etc. She received teeth and plastics from the burial site. She received swabs from Lori’s apartment and a chain and pendant. She received 18 hand tools at the Daybell property.
12:57 p.m. Next witness is Katherine Dace, a forensic biologist for Idaho State Police. She has worked there since 2016. Rob Wood is questioning Dace.
12:56 p.m. Judge Boyce says we need to be done today by 3:20 p.m., and tomorrow will be a shortened day. Court will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow with no lunch break.
12:49 p.m. Back in the courtroom. Lori is with her attorneys, and the prosecutors are at their table.
12:47 p.m. Sketches from this morning.
11:48 a.m. We are going to lunch. See you in an hour.
11:47 a.m. A DNA profile was created for JJ and compared against Dennis Trehan, JJ’s biological father. The results showed 99.9999% of the male population was excluded from being JJ’s father. The state has no further questions for Nowlin. No cross-examination from the defense. The witness is excused.
11:46 a.m. Nowlin says JJ’s tooth sample was different than any she has seen previously. “When I broke open the tooth, there were still plump vessels present inside the tooth.”
11:44 a.m. “It is 2 billion, 528 million times more likely that Lori Vallow is the mother of the deceased individual as opposed to another randomly selected woman from the population,” Nowlin says – based on the molar tested from Tylee’s body.
11:41 a.m. Nowlin created a DNA profile for Tylee. She compared it against the DNA sample from Lori Vallow to determine if Lori was Tylee’s mother. The results showed 99.9999% of the female population was excluded from being Tylee’s mother.
11:40 a.m. Nowlin worked the Daybell case. “The items I was specifically asked to examine were biological samples said to be collected from Tylee Ryan – molars and a section of rib. I was also given biological samples from Joshua J. Vallow – which also consisted of a molar and section of rib. I was also given known samples from Dennis Trehan as well as Ms. Vallow.”
11:39 a.m. There are several standards the lab follows to be accredited and in order to work with other law enforcement agencies including the FBI.
11:38 a.m. The labs are bleached down, lab coats are worn, hair is pulled back, each item is tested separately, Nowlin says. The Idaho State Police lab is an accredited lab.
11:37 a.m. Multiple steps are taken to ensure the process of collecting DNA is done correctly. “There are controls built into the system to make sure it works,” Nowlin says.
11:35 a.m. Nowlin explains what DNA. Half comes from your mom, and half comes from your dad. She says it’s a multiple-step process to determine where DNA originated.
11:33 a.m. Nowlin has testified approximately 85 times before today about DNA analysis. “Over the course of 20 years, I’ve tested thousands of (DNA) samples.”
11:31 a.m. Wood asks Nowlin to describe her experience. She shares her educational and career background.
11:30 a.m. The next witness is Rylene Nowlin. Nowlin works in the Idaho State Police Forensic Department. She is the lab manager. Rob Wood will be questioning her.
11:28 a.m. Thomas has no further questions and Smith has no redirect. Sincerbeaux is excused.
11:25 a.m. Sincerbeaux gives a very scientific answer as to how the testing is done to determine whether gasoline is in the can. His explanation includes words I’ve never heard. If you’re really interested, you should listen to the audio recording later tonight.
11:23 a.m. Sincerbeaux says when it comes to testing, they use a charcoal strip attached to a Christmas tree ornament hanger to put in the substance.
11:22 a.m. Thomas asks Sincerbeaux how full the pint-sized can was. Sincerbeaux doesn’t recall but says they normally want it 3/4 full for testing.
11:21 a.m. Sincerbeaux was tasked with looking for any ignitible liquids – paint thinners, gasoline, diesel.
11:20 a.m. Smith has nothing further. John Thomas now cross-examining Sincerbeaux.
11:19 a.m. “That can contained gasoline,” Sincerbeaux says.
11:18 a.m. Sincerbeaux recalls testing a pint-sized can containing decomposing flesh and other debris collected from Chad Daybell’s property.
11:15 a.m. Sincerbeaux has examined tens of thousands of items affected by fire during the course of his career.
11:14 a.m. Sincerbeaux worked as an analytical chemist in the ISP lab analyzing fire debris and drugs. He has since retired and coaches softball in northern Idaho.
11:11 a.m. Next witness called to the stand is David Sincerbeaux. He’s retired from Idaho State Police, and Rachel Smith is questioning him.
11:10 a.m. Halepaska’s testimony is over. He is released from the stand.
11:09 a.m. Rawlings has some short follow-up questions for clarification.
11:06 a.m. Thomas asks for clarification on the difference between the stabbing and chopping tool marks. “I’m a little confused which is which.” Halepaska says in the stabbing, the energy is being transferred from the tool to the surface and is focused on a very narrow area. The chopping action force is being applied over a long-access area. Thomas has no further questions.
11:04 a.m. Halepaska says a lot of disciplines exist in the FBI laboratory and they try to help as much as possible but they are limited based on the evidence given to them.
11:01 a.m. Thomas asks, “Is it true you don’t know what caused these marks, you just know it was something?” Halepaska responds, “All I know is the marks were generated by some tool that is consistent in generating those marks but I don’t know what was used.”
11 a.m. Halepaska says his analysis was focused solely on the marks and damage to the bones – not flesh or skin.
10:57 a.m. Halepaska says it would have been helpful to have tools to analyze in the case.
10:56 a.m. None of the tools seized from Chad Daybell’s property were used in the testing, Halepaska says. He says no tools were submitted to the lab – he just tested the bones.
10:54 a.m. Halepaska says he tries to use tools to replicate marks on other types of materials. He used replicas of knives, hatchets, machetes and “a lot of different tools” to determine what was used in this case.
10:50 a.m. Halepaska says examinations similar to this case are “infrequent” and he has maybe done them five to six times over his career.
10:50 a.m. Halepaska says after he graduated college, he was reactivated in the Marine Corp. following 9/11. Thomas thanks him for his service.
10:50 a.m. We are back in court. Thomas asks Halepaska when he started the National Intelligence University, where he is currently enrolled. Thomas asks Halepaska for his employment history out of college.
10:20 a.m. Boyce announces that we are taking the morning recess for 20 minutes.
10:18 a.m. Thomas asks Halepaska about his background and where he received his education. Halepaska explains where he went to school and that he is currently enrolled in classes that require federal security clearances.
10:15 a.m. Rawlings has no further questions for Halepaska. Thomas will conduct cross-examination.
10:12 a.m. Rawlings asks Halepaska to summarize his findings. He says he was able to outline tools that could have produced the marks but could not specifically determine each individual item. He says marks likely came from a knife, hatchet, cleaver, something with serrated teeth marks, a machete or other tools.
10:10 a.m. The last picture is the backside of the bones we just saw. Halepaska points out lots of stabbing and chopping-type action marks on the image.
10:07 a.m. We have another image displayed on the screen showing the totality of all the bones Halepaska examined. You see both hips and the spine/vertebrae. He marked all of the spots that were damaged and there are a lot of them.
10:03 a.m. The next image shows a large piece of Tylee’s hip bone. Halepaska says some type of force was applied because there’s an impression on it. There are other areas of damage.
10:01 a.m. We now see a photo with a big black crack in a bone. “This is from a chopping-type action. The force of the action occurred from left to right, kind of coming upward,” Halepaska says.
9:58 a.m. We are now viewing another photo showing a bone damaged from a chopping-type action, Halepaska explains. He believes the marks came from a blade tool such as a cleaver, machete or hatchet.
9:55 a.m. The next image is the other half of the hip or pelvic region. There is some damage created from a chopping-type action that pierced the hard layer of the bone. There are soot marks on the bone that were damaged due to fire. “I was unable to find any tool marks but it does appear some type of force was applied to it perpendicular, driving it downward, but it was still attached to the bone.”
9:52 a.m. Rawlings presents more photos showing damage to bones. We now see an intact portion of Tylee’s spine. It has marks consistent with a chopping-type action, Halepaska says.
9:48 a.m. We now see a photo of the backside of the hip bone. It shows damage from a stabbing-type action that went through the bone to the outside. “I believe it was some type of bladed tool like a knife; however, I couldn’t preclude other tools that might have some type of pointed edge.”
9:46 a.m. Another photo shows a crack in the bone that cut through the hard layer and transferred to the other side of the bone. “It indicates to me there may have been some type of serrated edge on the blade,” Halepaska says, adding that it came from a chopping-type action.
9:45 a.m. Halepaska wasn’t able to determine the exact tools that caused the marks but he speculates they came from a bladed tool such as a machete or hatchet.
9:43 a.m. The next slide shows multiple images. The top picture shows close-up images of the tool marks found on the bone. During the presentation, Lori is drawing or writing on her notepad, whispering to her attorneys and drinking from a cup of water.
9:40 a.m. The next image shows more damage and fractures to the hip bone. Halepaska says the damage was caused by a chopping-type action. “It didn’t drive all the way through the hard layer of the bone but you can see basically part of the bone of the damaged area.” Halepaska says he took a casting of this part of bone but was unable to identify characteristics of the injury.
9:40 a.m. Halepaska applied the casting material to the damaged part of the bone and let it harden. He did this twice and was unable to identify any characteristics of the tool that possibly caused the damage.
9:36 a.m. The next photo is a close-up of the hip bone where Halepaska says there was evidence of a stabbing action. “You can actually see some of the bone here has begun to fracture, and the force of the impact came down at a perpendicular angle. This fracturing that’s occurring has been driven to the bone. The bone has a hard layer and a hallowed layer inside. This penetrated the hard layer into the hallow layer and there was damage that occurred on the other side of the bone.”
9:35 a.m. An image of the hip bone is displayed on the screen. Halepaska points out damage on the bone and says there are signs of stabbing and chopping-type actions.
9:30 a.m. Thomas returns to his seat. Rawlings continues to question Halepaska about the photos. He says they are pictures taken during the exam period from Feb. 2021-Oct. 2021. Halaepaska placed markings on the photos and bones.
9:27 a.m. Rawlings asks to admit some photographs. Thomas looks over them and says he has a question for Rawlings. They walk into the corner of the courtroom. There is no white noise today. Boyce says there are some tech issues that should hopefully be resolved during lunch.
9:24 a.m. Halepaska says during the first part of his examination process, he documents everything in his notes. During the next level of the exam, he brings in a comparison microscope that allows him to look at two separate samples using the same viewing field and magnification.
9:22 a.m. Halepaska explains types of tool marks and impressions that can be found on objects.
9:20 a.m. Rawlings asks Halepaska if he used casting material. He says he did. “Casting material is a silicon-based compound. It’s administered onto a surface as a thick liquid. Once that substance dries, it dries into a rubberized material and picks up casting of the items.” Halepaska took five castings of the evidence items.
9:18 a.m. Halepaska explains the first thing he does in reviewing evidence is open up the package. He then reviews the evidence for any tool marks. He documents it in his notes with images or handwritten. “A tool can be thought of when two objects come in contact with each other. The harder of the two objects is called the tool, the softer of the objects is called the tool mark.”
9:16 a.m. Halepaska asks to review his notes. The defense has a right to see the notes before he looks them over so Thomas is reviewing them. Lori is chatting with Jim Archibald, her other attorney.
9:14 a.m. When evidence arrives at the firearm/tool mark unit, an examiner or technician picks it up and puts it into a storage facility. Halepaska recalls receiving the evidence from the Ada County Coroner’s Office.
9:12 a.m. Halepaska has worked at the Quantico lab for over 13 years. Evidence typically arrives via Fed Ex but sometimes it’s hand delivered. Someone receives the evidence, enters it into a software system, takes inventory and puts together an examination plan.
9:10 a.m. Halepaska explains the training he received to be a tool mark examiner. He’s worked with tools and firearms in different training facilities and has passed several oral and written exams.
9:08 a.m. Next witness called to the stand is Douglas Halepaska. He works in the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. He’s a forensic examiner in the firearms and tool marks division. Fremont County Deputy Prosecuting Tawyna Rawlings is questioning Halepaska.
9:05 a.m. Smith has a follow-up question. “If you can’t tell a specific tool, how do you determine it was actually caused by sharp trauma?” “It refers to trauma imparted by something with a very small surface area. This is different than blunt trauma, which is imparted by an object with a large surface area,” Christensen explains. No further questions. Christensen is released from the witness stand.
9:04 a.m. Thomas asks how long Tylee’s exam took. Christensen needs to refer to her notes. She says she began her exam on Aug. 23, 2020 and completed her final report on Sept. 22, 2020. She says generally she is only working one case at a time. Thomas has no further questions for Christensen.
9:02 a.m. “In this particular case, what types of instruments were used based on your professional experience, training, research and review of other articles – what types of instruments were used?” Thomas asks. Christensen says that’s not her expertise – that’s for the tool expert.
9:01 a.m. Christensen says her main job was to identify trauma on the bones and narrow down what bones could be examined by other humans.
8:58 a.m. John Thomas will conduct cross-examination on Dr. Christensen. He asks about the injuries not being consistent with a dismemberment type case. He asks how many dismemberment cases she has done over her career. She says “a handful” – probably fewer than ten. Christensen says is constantly reading case studies and reports about dismemberment cases. She says typical dismemberment cases are done by cutting around joints and that was not done with Tylee.
8:57 a.m. We are shown an x-ray image of the sacrum and four vertebrae. There was no evidence of sharp trauma on the x-ray but Christensen says trauma is often not visible in a radiograph image. Smith has no further questions for Christensen.
8:54 a.m. We are now shown an image of the sacrum bone (the back of the pelvis between the hip bones) which is attached to vertebrae. “There was one sharp alteration on the left side,” Christensen says.
8:52 a.m. More images are shown on the screen and Smith asks Christensen to identify the six areas of sharp trauma on these images.
8:50 a.m. The location of these sharp alterations is inconsistent with dismemberment, Christensen says.
8:49 a.m. We now see photos of the right hip bone. There are six areas of “sharp alterations” on this bone which Christensen points out with a laser pointer.
8:46 a.m. “The general location of the sharp impact in the pelvic area is inconsistent with dismemberment,” Christensen says. Christensen did not see any sharp trauma on the vertebrae but she can’t know for sure because the bones in that area were severely burned.
8:44 a.m. Smith pulls up an image on the big screen showing Tylee’s pelvis bone from two different angles. Christensen points out five areas of “sharp impact” on the bone.
8:41 a.m. Dr. Christensen takes her seat on the witness stand. Prosecutor Rachel Smith will be questioning Christensen. Here’s a sketch from yesterday.
8:40 a.m. Boyce is now on the bench and the jurors are being brought in.
8:34 a.m. There appears to be tech issues as courthouse staff are working on some computers up by the judge’s chair. Judge Boyce has not entered the courtroom yet.
8:29 a.m. Chad and Tammy Daybell were married nearly 30 years before she died. This is the first time Samantha Gwilliam has seen Chad’s new wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, in person.
8:28 a.m. Bailiff is reading instructions to the audience. He reminds everyone to follow the courtroom order, turn phones off, be quiet and not cause disruptions.
8:27 a.m. John Prior, Chad’s attorney, just walked in. I imagine he will want to hear what Samantha Gwilliam has to say.
8:24 a.m. Lori just walked into the courtroom. She is wearing zebra-ish white and black patterned pants, a black top and a black jacket. She is chatting and smiling with her attorneys.
8:20 a.m. In the courtroom. Samantha Gwilliam (Tammy Daybell’s sister) and her husband Jason Gwilliam are also here. Kay and Larry Woodcock are back today. Many spectators tell me they are here for the first time. One came from Arizona just for this. Other spectators have been here every day.
8:15 a.m. Day 17 of Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial begins today. FBI Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Angi Christensen will be back on the stand. If you missed yesterday, you can get caught up here.