BOISE – Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial began with jury selection Monday morning in Ada County.
Daybell is charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection to the deaths of her children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and Tylee Ryan, who was last seen a few days before her 17th birthday.
Her husband, Chad Daybell, faces the same charges and both are also charged in the death of Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell.
Three groups of 15 men and women were questioned by District Judge Steven Boyce, prosecutors and Daybell’s defense attorneys Monday before being privately examined by the lawyers and the judge.
Around 40 members of the media and public watched the proceedings in an overflow room at the Ada County Courthouse. A live broadcast was also transmitted to the Madison County Courthouse where a handful of people viewed jury selection.
Because Boyce banned cameras in the courtroom, a sketch artist hired by EastIdahoNews.com and other media organizations provided images throughout the day.
Twelve jurors will ultimately be picked along with six alternates. Out of the 45 questioned Monday, 17 remained in the jury pool at the end of the day. The court needs 42 before the defense and prosecution will begin eliminating jurors until 18 remain.
Opening arguments will happen once a jury is picked and could begin as early as this week.
EastIdahoNews.com reporter Nate Eaton will be posting updates from the courthouse every day of the trial. You can read a more comprehensive rundown of what happened today below and watch “Courtroom Insider: The Lori Daybell Trial” in the video player above.
LIVE UPDATES FROM THE LORI VALLOW DAYBELL TRIAL
5:55 p.m. Final sketch from today’s hearing:
5:21 p.m. Individual voir dire now commences and the video feed has been turned off.
5:20 p.m. Jim Archibald now questioning jurors. Apologies for not having more frequent updates but this is the same process we have witnessed two other times today so scan back and you’ll see what happened there.
5 p.m. Rachel Smith now questioning potential jurors about answers they provided on their questionnaires.
4:30 p.m. Rob Wood now questioning potential jurors in group three. He asks them to answer all questions using “brutal honesty” and asks a few jurors to define what that means to them.
4:25 p.m. Three potential jurors have been released due to hardship. Boyce now asking jurors if they are related to anybody on the prosecution or defense team.
4:01 p.m. Out of this group of 15, one is not here. Boyce says that person could face jail time and fines for being absent.
4 p.m. Boyce giving this group of potential jurors same instructions and guidelines he gave two prior groups. This session will basically be a repeat of what we have seen twice today.
3:53 p.m. Court back in session. Group three of jurors will be questioned now. Once that is over, court will be dismissed for the day and another group will be questioned tomorrow.
3:45 p.m. One more panel of 15 potential jurors will be brought in today for questioning. Expecting that to begin shortly.
3:30 p.m. Two groups of 15 potential jurors have now been questioned. Seventeen remain in the pool but the court needs to get 42 locked in before the defense and prosecution begin striking members. They need to get the number down to 18 – 12 trial jurors and six alternates.
3:15 p.m. Boyce now explaining that potential jury group is free to go but will be on standby as court will be in touch about what’s next. Court now going into 15 minute recess.
3:11 p.m. Court has completed individual voir dire and video feed is now up and running from the courtroom. Here is a sketch of Judge Steven Boyce.
2:15 p.m. Individual voir dire has now commenced so the video feed has been turned off. Will update when it resumes.
2:10 p.m. Archibald continues to ask individual jurors questions based on how they answered a questionnaire. There are around 30 people watching the proceedings in the Ada County overflow room this afternoon – most are members of the media. I’m told there are around 10 people watching in Madison County.
2 p.m. Archibald questioning a potential juror who works at the courthouse. Juror says he believes his job would not affect his ability to be a fair juror.
2 p.m. Prosecution is done questioning this group of 15 potential jurors as a whole. Jim Archibald now has some follow-up questions. He is now questioning individual jurors based on how they answered some questions on their questionnaires.
1:45 p.m. Kay and Larry Woodcock are not here today but I’m told they will arrive later this week. None of Lori Daybell’s family members are here. Chad Daybell has no family here and Tammy Daybell’s family members are not here.
1:42 p.m. Lori Daybell has appeared very attentive during jury selection today – taking notes and occasionally leaning over to chat with her attorneys.
1:38 p.m. As prosecutor Rachel Smith questions potential jurors, I received this photo of Tammy Daybell’s gravesite taken this morning. Many are thinking about her, JJ and Tylee today.
1:30 p.m. Blake stresses the importance of having jurors follow instructions from the court – even if they may personally disagree with the law or the instructions.
1:25 p.m. Judge has finished asking generic questions of jurors. Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake now questioning the new group of jurors and says they are looking for people willing and able to serve who will follow the court’s instructions. Blake says Fremont and Madison prosecutors are both here because crimes occurred in both counties
1:15 p.m. A few potential jurors have asked to be excused due to serious illnesses of family members/friends or other reasons. Boyce has granted all requests after consulting with prosecution and defense attorneys.
12:58 p.m. When Judge Boyce banned cameras and refused to allow a live audio feed, EastIdahoNews.com and other media outlets hired a sketch artist to draw images inside the courtroom. She is not permitted in the courtroom during jury selection, so today she is drawing sketches being transmitted from a grainy webcam onto a screen in an overflow room. Here is an image she just completed showing Jim Archibald questioning jurors with prosecutors Rod Wood, Lindsey Blake and Rachel Smith observing.
12:52 p.m. A lot of the updates this afternoon will be similar to posts this morning. A whole new group will be questioned by prosecution and defense.
12:40 p.m. Lunch break is over. A new group of potential jurors has been brought in and the questioning will begin all over again.
11:55 a.m. Court taking a 30 minute break for lunch.
11:53 a.m. This group of potential jurors is being dismissed and another group will be called. They are on standby and if any from this group are picked for the final jury, they will be called back.
11:50 a.m. Individual voir dire has concluded. We are now able to see the video feed again. Boyce says two other jurors have been excused and asks for a roll call of who is remaining.
11:10 a.m. Individual voir dire will now begin so the jurors will be questioned one at a time. This will be done privately so the video feed has been turned off.
11:05 a.m. Archibald now questioning individual potential jurors about how they answered certain questions on the questionnaire.
11 a.m. Another potential juror has received an order to report for annual US Navy training next week. Archibald explains this and asks the judge to dismiss the juror for hardship. Wood asks if it could be rescheduled. Juror is unsure. Boyce grants Archibald’s request and juror is excused.
10:55 a.m. Archibald questioning another potential juror who is a stay-at-home mom of two young children. He asks her if she is concerned about serving on the jury and being away from her kids. “Do you want to stay or would you like to go?” Archibald asks. She says, “I would like to go.” Archibald asks to have the potential juror removed for hardship, Boyce declines to grant the request. Juror remains for now.
10:53 a.m. Archibald questioning a lady who works for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in the jail. Her husband also works for the office. Potential juror explaining what she does for her job. She assures Archibald her job would not affect Lori’s ability to judge her fairly.
10:52 a.m. Jim Archibald’s, Lori’s attorney, now questioning potential jurors. “I wanted to see your eyes and I wanted you to see mine as we talk about your qualifications.”
10:50 a.m. Smith concludes questioning. Defense will now begin voir dire.
10:42 a.m. Smith asks if anyone watches CSI. One potential juror responds she’s a fan and lists the different series she has watched. Smith says there may be an expert in the case who testifies a murder occurred but the expert may not be able to determine exactly how the person died. Smith asks the potential juror if she would have a problem with that. The lady says no.
10:40 a.m. Smith questioning a potential juror who was an administrative assistant at a crime lab. The lady explains what her responsibilities were and makes it clear she had nothing to do with actual testing, etc. Smith asks if the woman’s employment at the lab will affect her ability to be fair to all sides. The lady says she can be fair.
10:35 a.m. Court is back in session. Smith continues questioning jurors. Lori Daybell appears to be taking notes.
10:20 a.m. Boyce says he has received a note that one of the potential jurors needs to take a break. Court now in a brief recess.
10:15 a.m. Smith explaining what conspiracy means and goes on to talk about witness credibility. “You may hear about a witness’s employment background, religious beliefs, etc. and it may be different than yours.” Smith asking jurors if the witness’s religious beliefs were different than theirs if would they have an issue.
10:10 a.m. Smith stresses the importance of only relying on information and evidence heard in the courtroom – not the news or anything outside.
10:05 a.m. Smith: Judge will give you instructions throughout the case. “Each of those crimes read to you that Mrs. Vallow Daybell has been accused of has specific definitions. The judge is going to give you those definitions.” Smith refers to instructions as “recipes” — compares to chocolate chip cookie ingredients. “Flour, sugar, chips and butter.” Some may think that isn’t a good recipe — but Smith says jurors must follow the “recipe” given by the court.
10:05 a.m. Rachel Smith is now taking over voir dire for the prosecution.
10 a.m. Wood: “There will be other types of evidence as well. Would you be able to rely on your reason and common sense with all of the evidence even though there may be some that is ’emotionally charged’?” Potential juror says she can do that.
10 a.m. Wood: “There will be some evidence in this case that I would describe as ’emotionally charged.’ It won’t be easy to look at. He asks if anyone will have an issue with this as there will be autopsy images with children. A lady raises her hand and says she has two elementary school age children. She did not know this case involved children.
10 a.m. Wood now discussing media and news coverage. Says a lot of things out there “aren’t true” and a lot things on the news won’t be presented in the trial because they aren’t relevant to the case. Asks jurors to set aside everything they’ve heard before and only rely on what they hear in the courtroom. He asks if any jurors will have a difficulty doing that and calls on one to answer. She says she hasn’t heard anything about this case.
9:55 a.m. Wood: “Can everybody in this room commit to following the law as it’s given to you by the judge rather than relying on what you think the law should be?” Asks jurors to raise their hands. “Even if you don’t like the law as given, will you all still commit to following the law?” They raise their hands.
9:52 a.m. Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood begins voir dire. First question goes to a juror and he asks for her interpretation of what “brutal honesty” means. Wood tells jurors to tell them exactly what they are thinking and feeling. “There’s a defendant here today who has a right to an impartial trial and the people of the state of Idaho have a right to a fair and impartial trial.”
9:50 a.m. Boyce asks potential jurors if they have formed opinions about whether Daybell is guilty or not guilty. Nobody raises their hand.
9:48 a.m. Boyce asks if any potential jurors are related to any of the attorneys. Nobody raises their hand. Boyce asks if anybody has sat on previous juries. A few raise their hand. One lady says she served on a criminal jury a little over two years ago. Boyce asks if anything in the previous case would affect her ability to be fair and unbias in this case. She says no.
9:44 a.m. Boyce asks if any potential jurors are related to Daybell. Nobody raises their hand. Boyce asks if any of the potential jurors are involved in civil cases with Daybell. Nobody raises their hand.
9:40 a.m. Boyce asks, “Is there anyone in the jury pool who knew nothing about this case until you came in last week with your questionnaires?” Many potential jurors raise their hands.
9:36 a.m. Another potential juror says he has a trip planned at a resort mid-May and if he is selected for the jury, he will lose his money. Prosecution and judge ask man if he had trip insurance or if the trip is refundable. Man responds he hasn’t looked into that. Defense does not object to dismissing the juror due to hardship. State does not object either. Boyce allows man to go.
9:35 a.m. Defense, prosecution and judge have no issue dismissing the potential juror for financial hardship. He is released to go.
9:35 a.m. Boyce asks a potential juror if he spoke with his employer about serving on a jury. He tells the judge he did as his employer will only pay him to be away for 14 days. The man says serving on the jury would create a financial hardship.
9:30 a.m. One juror raises his hand and says serving 8 weeks will create a hardship with his employment.
9:30 a.m. Boyce explains during voir dire, the potential jurors could be dismissed for cause. The prosecution and defense are each allowed to dismiss a certain number of potential jurors without cause. Boyce says the trial will last up to 8 weeks.
9:26 a.m. Voir dire, a preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by a judge or counsel, is about to begin. Boyce giving potential jurors instructions.
9:25 a.m. Boyce informs jurors they are now being shown in overflow rooms.
9:21 a.m. Lori is not dressed in a jail outfit. She has on a blue shirt and black cardigan and appears to be wearing glasses. Boyce is reading the charges to the jury after introducing all of the attorneys. He tells them the state has the burden of proving the defendant guilty. She is not required to prove her innocence and does not have to present any evidence.
9:20 a.m. One of the potential jurors did not show up. Boyce says they could face jail or a fine.
9:20 a.m. 18 jurors will be selected – 12 trial jurors and six alternates. Clerk is taking roll call by referring to the jurors by their number.
9:15 a.m. Boyce is introducing himself and court staff, welcoming jurors, explaining the proceedings are being livestreamed to an overflow room in the courthouse and the Madison Co. Courthouse.
9:15 a.m. Hearing has started. We have three camera angles on the screen. One shows Lori and her attorneys, the other shows the judge, the other shows prosecution.
9 a.m. Still waiting for jury selection to begin. Nobody is allowed in the courtroom except potential jurors, attorneys, Lori, judge, etc. We are all watching from an overflow room – probably 10-15 members of the public, the rest are media. At least half of the seats in the room are empty. Hearing is also being live streamed to the Madison Courthouse where I’m told a handful of people are watching.
8:50 a.m. We are still awaiting a ruling from Judge Boyce on if Larry and Kay Woodcock will be allowed to sit in the trial. Lori’s attorneys have argued against it – saying they are witnesses and should not legally be considered victims because they are not immediate family. Prosecutors argue the Woodcocks are victims and should be allowed in.
8:40 a.m. John Prior, Chad Daybell’s attorney, just walked into the overflow room to monitor proceedings. His client remains in the Fremont County Jail. Because there are no cameras, Chad will not get to watch what happens with his wife’s trial.
8:30 a.m. Around three dozen people are in the overflow room at the Ada County Courtroom as jury selection is about to get underway. Media from Idaho, Utah and Arizona are here. We’re told proceedings will begin each day at 8:30 a.m. and Judge Steven Boyce wants to dismiss the jury around 3:30 p.m. Breaks will be short (around 20-30 min. for lunch) to keep the trial moving.