Jury finds Chad Daybell guilty on all counts in triple murder case

An Idaho jury found Chad Daybell guilty of all charges in a murder case involving fringe religious beliefs, an affair and the deaths of three people.

The jury, which received the case on Wednesday afternoon, reached a verdict on Thursday at 1 p.m. local time. They found Daybell guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, two children of his current wife, Lori Vallow Daybell.

He was also convicted of conspiracy to commit the murder of his wife, conspiracy to commit murder and theft by deception in the deaths of JJ and Tylee, and insurance fraud.

With the prosecution seeking the death penalty, the case will move to the sentencing phase. Judge Steven Boyce told jurors Thursday afternoon that the proposed timetable for the sentencing phase would be up to them — including possibly holding court on weekends — and that witnesses in the penalty phase would begin Friday morning. The same jurors who ruled on his guilt, who were sequestered, will also hear the next phase. Daybell’s sentencing for insurance fraud will take place separately, Boyce said.

The bodies of the children were found buried on Daybell property months after their last visit. The case first gained national prominence after JJ was reported missing by his grandparents in 2019.

Daybell, 55, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Jurors heard from more than 75 witnesses during the trial, which began in early April. Prosecutors argued that Daybell and Vallow Daybell, who were engaged in an affair, conspired in the three murders for what prosecutor Lindsey Blake described as “Money, power and sex” – and justified their murders based on apocalyptic religious beliefs which described people as “dark” or “light”, said that evil spirits could possess people, and considered possessed people to be “zombies”.

Secrets of Chad Daybell’s Garden

Defense lawyer John Prior argued that it was the children’s late uncle, Alex Cox, who was behind the children’s murders. Two of Daybell’s five adult children were tested in his defense, claiming their mother had health problems. The Daybell children maintained that their father was innocent, notably in a 2021 interview with “48 Hours.”

The jury had returned to the courtroom after a few hours of deliberations earlier Thursday to inquire about a missing jury instruction before resuming deliberations.

It only took the jury a few hours to condemn Lori Vallow Daybell of murder in 2023. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole and was extradited to Arizona to face charges in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was fatally shot by Cox in 2019.

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