LIVE UPDATES | Forensics analyst, DNA expert testify on day 28 of Chad Daybell trial - East Idaho News
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LIVE UPDATES | Forensics analyst, DNA expert testify on day 28 of Chad Daybell trial

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Please excuse the typos. These are live updates from the courtroom.

2:51 p.m. Just had a chance to listen to the first part of the afternoon hearing that I missed. The judge called it somewhat suddenly and public was not allowed in due to security and time restraints. Boyce previously determined that a statement made by Janice Olson, Tammy’s co-worker, about changing Tammy’s life insurance policy could not be admitted. Because Emma Daybell brought up the issue during her testimony, the state wants to be able to bring in the statement. Prior objects to it but Boyce will not allow it.

2:45 p.m. Boyce says same applies to Colter Cannon. He can come back to testify as a rebuttal witness and Prior can object if he wishes. Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. we are back in the courtroom where a proposed schedule will be presented to the court. Ok – now I think we really are done for the day.

2:44 p.m. Wixom says all rebuttal witnesses will be focused on what the defense said – nothing outside of that. Boyce says if Hermosillo is called, Prior can object and Boyce can hear the argument at that time. The other witness the state wants to ask about is Colter Cannon.

2:42 p.m. Prior stresses he does not want Hermosillo back in. Boyce says Hermosillo will be placed under oath like other witnesses so he will need to tell the truth about whether or not he watched the trial or discussed it with others. Wixom reminds the court that Hermosillo was the chief officer for the Vallow case so he has heard most of the testimony and seen most of the evidence. Wixom says the rebuttal case will take 1.5-2 days and the questioning will be narrow and focused.

2:40 p.m. Prior is concerned that Hermosillo is a law enforcement officer involved heavily in the case. “I am extremely skeptical that Officer Hermosillo did not discuss the case with any other officers involved,” Prior says. Prior does not want him recalled. Prior says after he’s preparing to close his case, the state is bringing Hermosillo back to open the doors to a number of issues that can’t be addresses through cross-examination.

2:38 p.m. Boyce says there are two other potential witness issues relating to Det. Ray Hermosillo and Dep. Colter Cannon. Wixom says Hermosillo was released from his subpoena and has been hyper vigilante at not watching any part of the trial but the state wants to recall him as a rebuttal witness.

2:29 p.m. The state has a problem with the statement Emma says that “we did not consult with our husbands” when they signed the life insurance forms. Boyce will allow the state to question Emma about the statement when rebuttal witnesses are called.

2:28 p.m. Suddenly we are on the record again. Everyone left the courtroom and the livestream started again. Joined in late but there is discussion about Emma Daybell’s testimony on the life insurance form Tammy Daybell filled out.

1:40 p.m. Boyce is excusing the public from the courtroom. There is nothing further today. The jury will remain in the courtroom with the attorneys and judge to discuss scheduling. Join me tonight for ‘Courtroom Insider’ at 6:30 MDT.

1:34 p.m. Hampikian is done testifying and Prior asks for a sidebar.

1:32 p.m. Wood has nothing further. Prior has re-direct questions. He asks about the samples found on the ax and shovel. Hampikian confirms Tylee’s DNA was on the ax and shovel. Prior asks if there is an accurate way to determine how the samples got on there. Hampikian says not by anything he can do with DNA.

1:30 p.m. Wood asks Hampikian if he reviewed reports and testing about Tylee and JJ’s remains. Hampikian says yes. He also reviewed the hair sent to Bode Technology that matched to Lori Vallow.

1:29 p.m. Wood asks if Hampikian’s lab at BSU is accredited for forensic testing. Hampikian says it’s an academic lab so they never applied for the same accreditation as other private labs have.

1:27 p.m. Boyce says there is a question about an exhibit. He is allowing re-opening of direct examination and Prior asks to exhibit the Bode Technology DNA report. Wood is back at the podium.

1:24 p.m. Prior has nothing else. Wood will now cross-examine.

1:25 p.m. Boyce asks for a quick sidebar with counsel.

1:23 p.m. Hampikian says the smallest amounts of DNA were searched for – just a few cells (maybe 20-40). Hampikian says there was no indication there were problems testing the DNA or that the labs did anything wrong during testing.

1:19 p.m. Hampikian says when the hairs are being tested, they are testing a hypothesis: Was this Lori Vallow’s hair? Was it Chad Daybell’s hair? Was it JJ Vallow’s hair? The four hairs showed it belonged to none of them.

1:15 p.m. Hampikian says he found no evidence that Chad Daybell’s DNA was present on anything that was tested.

1:14 p.m. Three references were sent to Astrea to compare the hairs – Chad, Lori and JJ. “They determined that two of the hairs came from possibly the same person,” Hampikian says, but none of the three people – Chad, Lori and JJ – matched the four hairs.

1:12 p.m. Prior asks if it’s possible to obtain DNA on hairs without roots. Hampikian says it is as of about 3-4 years ago – private companies can test hairs without roots and try to determine DNA. Four hairs from this case were sent to Astrea Forensics for testing.

1:11 p.m. Hampikian is most interested in the biological evidence – that’s what catches his attention. There were more than a dozen hairs on an adhesive. Some of the hairs were brown, some were every short dark hair, one was a blonde hair.

1:10 p.m. Hampikian was supplied with a number of documents and electronic files containing DNA data. The files are important as he has his own software to analyze the DNA. He also received a list of evidence that was never tested.

1:05 p.m. We are back in the courtroom. Attorneys are at their tables and Hampikian is on the stand.

11:58 a.m. Lunch break. Back in an hour.

11:53 a.m. Prior asks if DNA can be transferred through breath. Hampikian says a certain amount of DNA is transferred in the air and it’s being studied right now.

11:55 a.m. Prior lists a variety of ways in which DNA can accumulate on objects – fluid, air, hair, touch. Prior asks if there are any he’s missing. Hampikian says there are more – the bite of a sandwich, bodies submerged in water for days, etc.

11:51 a.m. Prior says as humans, we are constantly shedding cells and transferring DNA. Hampikian says that’s true.

11:50 a.m. Prior ask what a single cell is. “It’s very small. You can’t see unless it’s a human egg cell. The type of cells we’re talking about, you have to have a microscope to see,” Hampikian says.

11:48 a.m. Hampikian says DNA can be transferred a variety of ways. Prior asks if you were to have any type of contact with an item, would DNA be transferred? Hampikian says there are many levels to that question. It depends – did you just wash your hand? Did you shed skin or have dandruff? How long was the touch? Etc.

11:46 a.m. My colleague Kaitlyn Hart interviewed Hampikian about the history of the death penalty in Idaho. You can read her story here.

11:44 a.m. Prior asks Hampikian about transferring DNA. Hampikian says it’s very hard to transfer someone’s thumb print from a glass to a gun or something like that. Hampikian says DNA is really good at telling us who may have contributed but not how it got there.

11:38 a.m. Prior asks if Hampikian has trained and worked with judges concerning DNA. He has. Hampikian has also helped exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates including Chris Tapp in Idaho Falls. You can see all our extensive coverage on the Tapp case here.

11:35 a.m. Hampikian worked on the Amanda Knox case for several years with the defense until she was exonerated. Hampikian has been doing forensic DNA work since 1989 and has worked on hundreds of cases.

11:33 a.m. Hampikian has worked with the French police and published an article on familial DNA. He also worked with a Taiwan forensic lab on a case concerning a man who was wrongfully convicted.

11:31 a.m. Hampikian explains his professional and educational background. He has worked on many cases doing DNA analysis.

11:29 a.m. Prior asks Hampikian about his profession. He has a lab at Boise State where he works on DNA projects, forensics, viruses in the biology department but also works on criminal justice projects. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Idaho College of Law.

11:24 a.m. The next witness is Dr. Greg Hampikian. He is the Director of the Forensic Justice Project at Boise State University and the Co-Director of the Idaho Innocence Project.


11:21 a.m. Wood has nothing further. Prior follows up about the call between Chad and Alex at 8:11 a.m. Prior asks if there is any data of any kind to suggest Chad’s device was on the property at the same exact time as Alex’s on those key dates. Eller says no. Prior has nothing further.

11:18 a.m. Wood asks Eller if he is aware of Alex Cox’s relationship with Chad Daybell. Eller says he’s his brother-in-law.

11:15 a.m. Wood asks if Eller is aware Alex Cox’s account went to a Sportman’s Warehouse. Eller is aware.

11:07 a.m. Wood shows some different places where Alex’s device was tracked on Sept. 23. He also asks about Sept. 9 and how, on both dates, the homerjmaximus was located close to locations where the bodies were found. Eller says yes. Data from Alex’s device were tracked to the property after he spoke with Chad.

11:05 a.m. Wood asks the significance of Sept. 23. It’s the day after JJ was last seen alive. Wood shows another map on the screen.

11:03 a.m. Wood shows a chart showing Chad’s device called Alex’s device at 9:25 a.m. on Sept. 23. Alex’s device first showed up at Chad’s house on 9:55 a.m. that morning.

11:02 a.m. Wood asks if he is aware that combining the raccoon text message and the data on the screen was how law enforcement found Tylee Ryan. Eller says no – he is not aware.

11 a.m. Eller says he spent a lot of late night over Christmas going through 10TB of data that was turned over. Wood asks Eller if he reviewed a cell phone belonging to Tammy Daybell. Eller doesn’t remember. Wood asks Eller if he is aware that Chad sent a text to his wife about burning limbs and shooting a raccoon. Eller says he is aware – but it doesn’t place Chad at the property.

10:58 a.m. Wood stresses that Chad made a call to Alex at 8:11 a.m. and around an hour later, Alex showed up at Chad’s house. Many of the data points for Alex Cox’s device recorded near the burial sites for JJ and Tylee.

10:54 a.m. Wood shows a record showing a phone call was made at 8:11 a.m. from Chad Daybell’s device to Alex Cox’s device on Sept. 9. Eller says Alex Cox’s device showed up at Chad Daybell’s property at 9:21 a.m. Wood clarifies that the CAST report used a 100 meter margin of error while Eller used a 500 meter margin of error.

10:51 a.m. Wood plays a video from the exhibit. He asks Eller about a specific wifi data point from either Lori Vallow or Alex Cox’s apartment. Wood asks Eller if he found any data from Alex Cox’s device during the early morning hours of Sept. 9 that went from apt. 107 to apt. 175 – Alex to Lori’s apartment. Eller says that’s correct.

10:48 a.m. Wood begins by publishing an exhibit. It’s a slideshow showing data he collected from Sept. 9. The first slide shows locations related to the homerjmaximus Google account.

10:43 a.m. Prior has nothing further. Wood will now conduct cross-examination.

10:42 a.m. Prior shows a document that says there were 138 text messages and 50 voice calls between Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, 2019 associated to Alex Cox’s device while it was at or near the Daybell residence.

10:39 a.m. Eller says you can take their data and map it using other tools but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will match because you aren’t testing it with the same tool.

10:38 a.m. Prior asks about Gladiator Forensics and if Eller looked into the availability of his company or the public using it. Eller says he did but Gladiator told him their testing is only for law enforcement.

10:37 a.m. Prior asks if drive testing is considered a scientific test. Eller says it’s used by the cell phone companies to determine signal. The drive test itself can’t locate a device, it only shows tower coverage.

10:34 a.m. Prior asks about drive testing. Eller says the drive testing done in the case showed the coverage area for multiple towers surrounding Chad’s house. Eller was concerned that there was a five degree difference in the cell tower coverage area between 2019 and 2020.

10:33 a.m. On Oct. 19, 2019, the day Tammy died, there was no indication that Alex’s device was within 1.4 miles of Chad’s property.

10:31 a.m. On Sept. 25, 2019, there are records showing Alex Cox’s device at or near Chad’s property between 10:05 a.m. through 10:24 a.m. On Oct. 9, 2019, the day of the paintball incident, Alex’s device was at the property at 4:50 p.m., 4:51 p.m. and 5:01 p.m.

10:30 a.m. Alex’s device was on the property on Sept. 23 from 9:55 a.m. through 10:12 a.m. There is no evidence Eller reviewed that could place Chad Daybell at the residence on the morning of Sept. 23.

10:26 a.m. Prior reviews the times and locations of where Alex’s device pinged on the property. He also presents a list showing activity from Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 showing Alex was at or near the Daybell property starting around 2:30 p.m.

10:23 a.m. There was no information suggestion Chad was at the residence on Sept. 6. On Sept. 9, there are multiple data points showing Alex Cox’s device was at or near Chad’s property between 9:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

10:20 a.m. Eller reviewed data associated to the account. Prior shows a document on the screen showing information from Sept. 6, 2019. It shows data returned from Google from the account – Alex Cox. On Sept. 6, 2019, a location point for that account was at or near Chad’s house at 12:42 p.m., 12:44 p.m., 12:51 p.m., 12:53 p.m. and 12:55 p.m.

10:19 a.m. Prior begins by reminding the jurors that there was no device associated to Chad Daybell on his property on Sept. 9 and Sept. 23. Eller says that’s correct. Eller says he reviewed 10 TB of data. “If you were to take the Library of Congress, if it was all printed, just 1TB would fill it.”

10:18 a.m. Back in the courtroom after a long break. Lindsey Blake has joined the prosecutors at the prosecution table. Prior will continue to question Eller.

9:39 a.m. Prior wants to admit an exhibit and there needs to be some redactions. Boyce says we will take a recess while the redactions happen. Be back soon.

9:35 a.m. Boyce asks for a sidebar.

9:32 a.m. Eller says there were 16 devices at or near the Daybell property on Sept. 23 not associated with Alex Cox. Alex’s device made it 17 devices. Once you exclude devices outside a 30 feet radius, there were four devices left. Eller says information on those four devices were not obtained by police.

9:30 a.m. Eller says this chart should be the complete list of records provided by Google at that time. He explains there were ten devices that were not included in the Google data request.

9:28 a.m. The chart shows information returned by Google for the geofence warrant based on a location at the Daybell for Sept. 23. This is the non-filtered radius version and there are several lines highlighted in yellow and other lines highlighted in green. The yellow lines are Alex Cox’s device on the Daybell property. The green lines are device IDs submitted to Google for subscriber information.

9:27 a.m. Prior brings up another exhibit on the screen showing devices on or around the property on Sept. 23.

9:22 a.m. The information requested from Google started at 9 a.m. Prior asks if it would be helpful to have requested records from earlier in the day. Eller says yes – it could have assisted in the investigation. Prior stresses again that there was no device associated to Chad Daybell on the property that morning.

9:21 a.m. Eller says he would have asked for the identifying information for all of the devices to identify everyone within the proximity of the property – not just the ten devices that Stubbs requested.

9:17 a.m. Eller does not know the phone numbers of the 19 devices. Stubbs pursued further information on 12 of the devices. Eller explains that Stubbs testified Google told him it was too many devices and to remove some devices from the list. Ten devices were ultimately looked at.

9:13 a.m. Eller identified 19 devices from the Google records that would have been within 250 meters from a spot in the backyard of the Daybell home.

9:11 a.m. There was no location showing a device belonging to Chad Daybell was on his property on Sept. 9 from 9:19 a.m. through 12:10 p.m., Eller testifies. Eller says it can be difficult to disable all the data Google collects on a device unless you simply turn the device off.

9:09 a.m. Eller went through and organized the data from Google. Prior asks Eller if there was any information to suggest Chad Daybell’s device was part of the location data on Sept. 9, 2019. Eller says the results of the Google search showed the only device they were able to put at the residence was Alex Cox’s device.

9:06 a.m. Prior asks the process for obtaining IDs other than turning off location device on a phone. Eller says if you were to connect to wifi from a device, you would generate a record with Google. The list of devices and information from Google was returned in a spreadsheet format and organized by time and date.

9:04 a.m. Eller says the data was being collected for devices at the Daybell residence. “There was a lot of other devices -there are more records than what you see here.” Prior says there were several IDs of phones within the proximity of the Daybell property. Eller says the list includes the devices the police were asking to be identified.

9 a.m. Eller says it appears Rexburg police were trying to find information on devices that would have been in multiple places. Prior shows document that lists device IDs with times and dates of when the device IDs were seen inside the radius of the geofence. The latitude and longitude is also on the list and the source of the data – Wifi, GPS, etc.) is also on the list.

8:57 a.m. On the screen, Prior shows the search warrant Stubbs submitted to Google to provide information about individual device IDs. Eller says when you submit a geofence to Google, they provide a list of numbers associated with the geofence. You then need to submit another warrant to get information about the numbers. Stubbs submitted a warrant to Google for information on 11 IDs.

8:55 a.m. Eller listened to the testimony of Rexburg Det. David Stubbs and FBI Agent Nicholas Balance. Prior asks Eller to talk about their testimony in relation to Alex Cox’s phone. Eller says in listening to the testimony about how the geofence was done and what was returned in the search warrant from Google, he found there were more devices than what were actually requested to be identified.

8:54 a.m. Eller reviewed a lot of data from this case from Google, Apple and other sources. Prior asks Eller if he reviewed Geofence evidence. Eller did. Prior asks what Geofence evidence is. “It’s not something Google intended to be used in this manner but Geofence allows you to take a location, put a radius around it and submit a search warrant in order to gain information about devices that would have passed through that Geofence,” he says.

8:53 a.m. Prior asks about disabling a device. Can you just pull it off and go into settings to turn off location services? Eller says that’s one way but you could also go into your Google account and change the settings. You could just turn the device off to stop sharing information too.

8:52 a.m. Eller says if you have an Android phone, you would need to have a Gmail account to use the device. Google would have information about you registering the device, what services you’re enabled and what you are allowing to be stored.

8:50 a.m. Eller says the best source to get information about data on a phone is the actual device itself. He calls it “native location data” – data directly from the phone. You can also use information captured by the phone manufacturer or the operating system on the phone -iOS or Google.

8:48 a.m. Prior asks what metadata is. Eller says it’s data about data. When you see a photo, the metadata is all the information that created the photo. If it’s been filtered, cropped, the date, etc. – everything about the picture.

8:47 a.m. Eller compares the amount of data people use daily to an iceberg – the 10% you see of the iceberg above the water is what people use day to day. His company focuses on the 90% of data “below the surface” – the in-depth stuff.

8:45 a.m. The last seven years Eller was in the Army, he helped build out the digital forensics program at Quantico and it was spread across the globe. Eller’s company does 25-30 classes a year for legal entities and law enforcement agencies.

8:43 a.m. Prior asks Eller about his education and training. He has been a police officer, served in the Army and was the command digital forensic examiner for the US Army Criminal Investigation program. Here’s a picture of Eller from his company website:


8:42 a.m. Metadata Forensics is a consulting and training firm that does digital forensics on devices, expert testimony, training for law enforcement, attorneys, victim advocates. “We examine any device that contains data or any data that’s turned over to us,” Eller says.

8:38 a.m. Prior calls Patrick Eller as a witness. He is the CEO of Metadata Forensics and a digital forensics examiner.

8:37 a.m. Correction: Lindsey Blake is not in the courtroom this morning. Boyce is on the bench and jurors are in their seats.

8:29 a.m. Chad Daybell is sitting at the defense table with John Prior. At the prosecution table: Madison Co. Prosecutor Rob Wood, Fremont Co. Prosecutor Lindsey Blake, Fremont Co. Deputy Prosecutor Rocky Wixom and Special Prosecutor Ingrid Batey.

8:27 a.m. We are back in the courtroom. The bailiff reminds everyone that recording and taking photos in the hallway of the courthouse is not allowed. Three people in line were apparently recording or take selfies this morning. The bailiff says this goes against the guidelines in the courthouse administrative order and anyone doing this is in contempt of court. He reminds everyone to turn their phones off and not whisper during the trial today.