Jurors could soon decide the fate of the Idaho man charged in a triple murder case

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors will make their final arguments before jurors Wednesday in a Idaho man charged of killing his wife and his new girlfriend’s two youngest children.

The trial against Chad Daybell has already lasted about two months, with testimony from dozens of witnesses sometimes turning out to be strange and gruesome.

Prosecutors say Daybell, 55, promoted unusual and apocalyptic spiritual beliefs to justify the killings, all so he could fulfill his desire for money, sex and power. They have said they will seek the death penalty if Daybell is convicted.

Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, claims there simply isn’t enough evidence to definitively tie Daybell to the death, or even to prove that his late wife, Tammy Daybell, was murdered rather than dying of natural causes. Several witnesses, including Chad and Tammy Daybell’s adult children, testified for the defense.

Daybell is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft in connection with the death of Tammy Daybell7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

Last year, the children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, was given a life sentence without parole for the murders.

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell married just two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death in October 2019, raising suspicions among local law enforcement officials. Tammy Daybell’s body was later exhumed and officials say an autopsy showed she died of asphyxiation. Chad Daybell had told officials that Tammy Daybell had been ill and that she died in her sleep.

However, witnesses from both sides seem to agree on a few things: Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell had an affair that began long before Tammy Daybell died, and the two young children were missing for months before their remains were found buried in the jail by Chad Daybell. backyard.

The case started in the fall of 2019, when Lori Vallow Daybell’s then-estranged husband, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed in his home in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. Vallow Daybell’s brother Alex Cox committed the shooting, but told police it was in self-defense. Cox was never charged.

Lori Vallow Daybell, her children JJ and Tylee, and her brother Cox all moved to eastern Idaho and settled in a town not far from the rural area where Chad Daybell lived. Just a few months later, extended family reported the two children went missing and law enforcement officials launched a search that spanned several states.

The children’s remains were found nearly a year later, buried on Chad Daybell’s property. Investigators later determined that 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.

During the trial, prosecutors presented testimony from Lori Vallow Daybell’s niece, who said the couple believed people could be possessed by evil spirits, turning the person into a “zombie.” They said zombies would eventually be overcome by the dark spirit and die, Melani Pawlowski told jurors. Her testimony echoed that given last year by another friend of the couple, Melanie Gibb. Gibb testified at Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial that she heard Vallow Daybell call the two children “zombies” before they disappeared.

Jurors heard grim testimony from law enforcement officers who described finding the children’s bodies in Daybell’s yard. They were also shown dozens of cell phone records and messages between Daybell and Vallow Daybell, including some showing that she called him the day Charles Vallow died. Daybell allegedly told Vallow Daybell in one message that JJ was “barely attached to his body” and that “a plan is being orchestrated for the kids.”

Defense witnesses included Dr. Kathy Raven, a forensic pathologist who reviewed Tammy Daybell’s autopsy reports and said she believes the cause of death should have been classified as “undetermined.”

Chad Daybell’s son, Garth Daybell, testified that his mother was tired and sickly before she died. He told jurors he was home the night his mother died and that he heard no disturbances from his bedroom next to his parents’ room. He said he later felt like police officers and prosecutors tried to pressure him to change his story, at one point even threatening him with perjury charges.

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