Chad Daybell faces the death penalty for three murders


A day after returning a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Chad Daybell, an Idaho jury began deliberating Friday whether he would face the death penalty for the killings of his first wife and two of children from his second wife.

Daybell was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and two of his second wife’s children – Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7 . in one case, the prosecutor’s claims were fueled by power, sex, money and apocalyptic spiritual beliefs.

The sentencing phase of Daybell’s trial began shortly after the guilty verdict was handed down, with state Judge Steven Boyce giving the jurors preliminary instructions. Jurors began deliberating his fate Friday afternoon after hearing victim impact statements and the contrasting portraits of the man presented by lawyers.

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

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

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

“This defendant has demonstrated a complete disregard for human life,” Wood added. “The defendant, through his conduct, whether before, during or after the commission of the murders in question, has shown a propensity to commit murder, which will likely pose a continuing threat to society.”

The prosecutor concluded: “It is up to you to decide whether one or more of these aggravating factors have been proven. And if so, you must decide whether, in these circumstances, the 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 murdering 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 appealed her convictions to the state Supreme Court, with her legal team raising questions about whether she was mentally competent to stand trial.

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

Addressing the jury Friday, defense attorney John Prior portrayed Daybell as a “quiet, reserved and shy young man” who grew up in Springville, Utah, a small, close-knit “faith town.” 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 previously been married several times.

“All that glitters is not gold,” he told the juniors. “Lori Vallow was glowing. It wasn’t made of gold. She was the one who changed the plan… Chaos strikes and all these things start to go wild and it 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 think about it,” he said. “You’re looking at Chad Daybell’s past before the bomb dropped, the Lori Vallow bomb…If it hadn’t been for this plot that changed the path, is that where we would have gone? That’s not where we would go.

The jurors also heard from the victims’ relatives on Friday.

“It angers me and it destroys me to know that Tammy was treated the way she was,” Tammy Daybell’s father, Ron Douglas, told jurors. “I find it comforting to know that Tammy is resting peacefully in Utah, buried alone and close to her beloved mother.”

Kay Woodcock spoke about her grandson JJ and niece-in-law Tylee.

“I sit here today and try to explain the immense pain that I and everyone in my family continue to endure on a daily basis,” she said. ” But how to do it ? »

“I can tell you there have been too many situations over the last few years where we’ve been criticized for not taking another step forward for JJ,” she said of her little one. -son. “The constant question remains: who would he have become? What kind of man would he have been?

Woodcock remembers Tylee as “the most precious little girl, with blonde hair and blue eyes” and an “absolute mama’s girl.”

Woodcock added, breaking down in tears: “There is a hole in my heart, in the hearts of every member of my family, that can never be filled and will remain that way for the rest of my life. »

Daybell declined to address the court after victim impact statements.

Law enforcement found the remains of Tylee and JJ on Chad Daybell’s property in Fremont County in June 2020, authorities said.

“It’s a sad day. “JJ would have been 12,” JJ’s grandfather, Larry Woodcock, said after the verdict Thursday.

Woodcock remembered the victims and asked the same question over and over again.

“What have they accomplished? ” Nothing. What did they do? “They destroyed families,” Woodcock said of Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell.

But the defendants, Larry Woodcock said, couldn’t destroy the memories loved ones have of the victims. “They can’t stand this,” he added, becoming emotional at one point. When he heard the jury’s verdict in court, he said, he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

“Sex, money and power” were at the heart of the trial

During opening statements, the prosecutor and defense attorney painted contrasting portraits of the accused.

The state described him as a grandiose, power-hungry man who would stop at nothing for “what he considers his rightful destiny.” His defense attorney portrayed Daybell as a religious man drawn into an unhappy relationship with a “beautiful, vivacious woman” who knew “how to get what she wants.”

“Two dead children buried in defendant Chad Daybell’s backyard,” Wood said in his first words to the jury at the start of the trial.

“The following month, his wife was found dead in their marital bed. Seventeen days after the death of his wife, Tammy Daybell, this defendant is photographed laughing and dancing on a Hawaii beach during his wedding to Lori Vallow, a woman who was his mistress and the children’s mother buried in the graves on his property. . Three corpses.

When Daybell “had the chance to realize what he saw as his rightful destiny,” Wood said, he “made sure that no person or law would stand in his way.”

“His desire for sex, money and power led him to pursue these ambitions,” added the prosecutor. “And that pursuit resulted in the death of his wife and Lori’s two innocent children.”

Tammy Daybell was initially thought to have died in her sleep, and Chad Daybell remarried less than three weeks after her death in 2019.

Prior said Daybell’s life began to change after he met Vallow Daybell, a “beautifully gorgeous woman” who “began paying him a lot of attention” and eventually lured him into an “inappropriate” and “extramarital affair.” unhappy.”

Vallow Daybell’s two children, from a previous marriage, were last seen on separate days in September 2019. Tylee Ryan was a “normal, vibrant teenager” who loved her friends and her little brother, JJ, was on the autism spectrum and required special care. according to Wood.

In late November 2019, relatives asked police in Rexburg, Idaho, do a welfare check for JJ because they hadn’t spoken to him recently. Police did not find him at the family home, but saw Vallow Daybell and Daybell, who said JJ was staying with a family friend in Arizona, according to authorities.

When police returned with a search warrant the next day, the couple had disappeared. They were finally found in Hawaii in January 2020.

In June 2020, law enforcement found Tylee and JJ’s remains on Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho. Vallow Daybell and Daybell were charged with murder in May 2021.

Tylee was allegedly killed between September 8 and 9, 2019, and JJ between September 22 and 23, according to prosecutors.

“We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us, and we only hope that they died without pain or suffering,” the children’s families said in a statement after the remains were discovered.

CNN’s Dalia Faheid contributed to this report.

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