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Chad Daybell trial: Jury determines death sentence for Daybell

UPDATE 12:20 p.m. - Judge Steven Boyd has ordered Chad Daybell to be sentenced to death on 6 counts and sentenced 15 years in prison on the insurance fraud charges with no fines because it would be difficult to get restitution with the death sentence.

UPDATE 11:35 a.m. - The jury in the Chad Daybell trial determined he can be sentenced to death.

Judge will make a final sentencing and will be back in court 12:10 p.m.

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.-The sentencing verdict should be read any minute. Watch live now.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.-The jury has made a sentencing decision and a verdict will read in 10 minutes.

UPDATE 9:00 a.m.: The jury has begun deliberations again.

UPDATE 7:54 p.m. The jury has retired for the evening. Deliberations in sentencing phase will continue Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

PREVIOUS STORY 2:00 p.m.: Jury is back to deliberating the fate of Chad Daybell. Closing arguments in the sentencing phase just finished. We'll update this page when they return.


BOISE, Idaho (KIFI, AP, CNN) - Chad Daybell was convicted Thursday of killing his wife and the children of Lori Vallow, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.

Jurors are now being asked to decide if Daybell should receive the death sentence or life in prison.

Court continues from the Ada County Courthouse in Boise Friday morning.


In his opening statement to the jury on Friday, prosecutor Rob Wood asked them to consider aggravating factors that would make Daybell eligible for the death penalty.

First, the three murders, he said, were committed for remuneration. Daybell was also convicted of insurance fraud stemming from life insurance policies that allegedly paid him money after his first wife’s death. His second wife, as well as Daybell, also were convicted of grand theft because she continued to draw Social Security benefits for her children after their deaths.

Additionally, Wood told the jury, the murders of the three victims were “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity.”

“This defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life,” Wood added. “The defendant, by his conduct, whether such conduct was before, during or after the commission of the murders at hand, has exhibited a propensity to commit murder, which will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.”

The prosecutor concluded, “It is your decision whether one or more of these aggravators has been proven. And if it has been, you must decide if, under these circumstances, imposition of the death penalty would be just or unjust.”

The verdict came about a year after Daybell’s second wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was also convicted of the murder of her children and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was also convicted of conspiring to kill Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell has appealed her convictions to the state Supreme Court, with her legal team raising the issue of whether she was mentally competent to stand trial.

Authorities have said they believe Tylee and JJ were killed in September 2019 – the month they were last reported to have been seen – and that Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho home on October 19, 2019, a few weeks before Chad Daybell married Vallow Daybell.

Addressing the jury Friday, defense lawyer John Prior portrayed Daybell as a once “quiet, reserved, shy young man” who grew up in Springville, Utah, a small, tight knit “town of faith.” Daybell, his lawyer said, met his first wife, Tammy, and they were married for 29 years, raising five “wonderful” children “very deep in their faith, very deep in their commitment to family.”

But Daybell’s life changed in late 2018, Prior said, when he met Vallow Daybell, who had already been married multiple times.

“Everything that glitters is not gold,” he told jurors. “Lori Vallow glittered. She was not gold. She was the trajectory that changed the plan… Chaos hits and all of these things start cascading and this thing becomes very complicated and difficult.”

Prior said the new relationship with Vallow was like “this bomb dropped” on the life of “the small town boy from Springville.”

“We have to look back at that,” he said. “You examine what Chad Daybell’s past was prior to the bomb being dropped, the Lori Vallow bomb being dropped… If it wasn’t for that trajectory coming in and changing the path, is this where we would be going? It’s not where we’d be going.”

PREVIOUS STORY: An Idaho man was convicted Thursday of killing his wife and his new girlfriend's two youngest kids in a strange triple murder case that included claims of apocalyptic prophesies, zombie children and illicit affairs.

Jurors deliberated just six hours before finding Chad Daybell guilty, capping a case that began in 2019 and spanned at least four states. Daybell, standing and wearing a long-sleeve dress shirt, was stoic as the verdicts were read.

Now jurors will be tasked with deciding if Daybell, 55, should die for the murders of Tammy Daybell, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. The nearly two-month trial's penalty phase resumes Friday.

“Everything was addressed, every item was ‘guilty,’ and for that, I'm happy," JJ's grandfather Larry Woodcock told The Associated Press. “I'm still sad for the loss — there were four lives lost in this for no purpose, no reason — but my wife and I are just so satisfied with the verdict.”

The childrens' mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on the same conspiracy and murder charges last year. She married Chad Daybell just two weeks after Tammy Daybell was killed. She's now awaiting trial in Arizona, charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Charles Vallow was JJ's father.

The judge in the case has issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys on both sides from talking to the media until the trial is complete.

The case drew widespread media attention, and the judge moved the trial from the rural Idaho community where the killings occurred to Boise in an effort to ensure a fair and impartial jury.

In the penalty phase, prosecutors will attempt to show that the crimes merit a death sentence because they were especially depraved, heinous or cruel or that they meet one of other “aggravating factors” detailed in state law. Daybell’s defense, meanwhile, will try to provide the jury with mitigating circumstances to show a lighter sentence is more appropriate.

The investigation began five years ago, after JJ's grandparents Kay and Larry Woodcock became concerned that Vallow Daybell was refusing to let them have phone calls with the boy. Though they lived in different states, JJ and his grandparents had always been close, sharing regular video calls since he was about three years old. JJ was very bright and also autistic, Larry Woodcock said, and whenever he ran out of things to say he'd tell them, “Mawmaw, Pawpaw, I don't know.'”

“In the last couple of years of his life, he was developing his wit and his personality. If there's anything that I miss, it's his wit,” Larry Woodcock said. “There's not a day that goes by now that my wife and I don't turn to each other and say, ‘Mawmaw, I don’t know,' or ‘Pawpaw, I don’t know.'”

In 2019, Kay Woodcock asked police to check on the child. Investigators soon realized both children were missing, and a multistate search ensued. The investigation soon took several unexpected turns.

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were having an affair when both of their spouses died unexpectedly, investigators said. Vallow Daybell’s husband, Charles, was shot to death by her brother Alex Cox in Arizona in July 2019; the brother told police it was in self-defense. He was not charged.

Vallow Daybell, her kids JJ and Tylee, and Cox subsequently moved to eastern Idaho to be closer to Daybell, a self-published writer of doomsday-focused fiction loosely based on Mormon teachings.

In October 2019, Tammy Daybell died. Chad Daybell initially told police she was battling an illness and died in her sleep, but an autopsy later determined that she died of asphyxiation. Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell married just two weeks after Tammy Daybell's death, surprising family members.

Nearly a year after the children went missing, their remains were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in eastern Idaho. Investigators determined both children died in September 2019. Prosecutors say Cox conspired with Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell in all three deaths, but Cox died of natural causes during the investigation and was never charged.

Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses to bolster their claims that Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell conspired to kill the children and Tammy Daybell because they wanted to get rid of any obstacles to their relationship and obtain money from survivor benefits and life insurance. Prosecutors say the couple justified the killings by creating an apocalyptic belief system that people could be possessed by evil spirits and turned into “zombies,” and that the only way to save a possessed person’s soul was for the possessed body to die.

Fremont County prosecutor Lindsay Blake said Daybell styled himself a leader of what he called “The Church of the Firstborn” and told Vallow Daybell and others that he could determine if someone had become a “zombie.” Daybell also claimed to be able to determine how close a person was to death by reading what he called their “death percentage,” Blake said during closing arguments on Wednesday.

With these elements, Daybell followed a pattern for each of those who were killed, Blake said.

“They would be labeled as ‘dark’ by Chad Daybell. Their ‘death percentage’ would drop. Then they would have to die,” she said.

Blake also said Daybell manipulated Vallow Daybell and her brother, Cox, into helping with the plan, at times bestowing ‘spiritual blessings’ on Cox and warning Vallow Daybell that the angels were angry because she was at times ignoring him.

Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, rejected the prosecution’s descriptions of Daybell’s beliefs. He described Daybell as a traditional member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a deeply religious man who talked about his spiritual beliefs every chance he could get.

Prior said police looked only for things they could use against Daybell rather than the actual facts of the case — and he claimed that the children’s late uncle, Cox, committed the crimes. He noted that Cox had killed JJ Vallow’s father in Arizona and that the two children were the only witnesses to that shooting. He also said Cox tried to frame Daybell by burying the slain children in Daybell’s yard.

During the sentencing phase, jurors will be asked to decide if Daybell should receive a death sentence — Idaho law allows execution by lethal injection or firing squad — or life in prison. Woodcock said he will be satisfied with either option.

“That's what you get for murdering children. That's what you get for murdering your wife. Chad made his decision — he knew it was wrong," Woodcock said.

You can view a timeline of events and all our past stories on Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Vallow-Daybell Coverage

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