Chad Daybell sentenced to death for murdering his wife and two children in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho jury unanimously agreed Saturday that Convicted killer Chad Daybell deserves the death penalty for the gruesome murders of his wife and his girlfriend’s two youngest children, ending a dark case that began in 2019 with the search for two missing children.

Daybell, 55, dressed in a dress shirt and tie, sat with his hands on his knees at the defense table. He showed no emotion upon learning he would face the death penalty for the murders of Tammy Daybell, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow.

When the judge asked if he wanted to make a statement, Daybell declined.

Jurors found him guilty Thursday and decided on the death penalty after deliberating for a little more than a day.

The children’s mother is Lori Vallow Daybell, whom Chad Daybell married shortly after his wife’s death. Vallow Daybell was found guilty last year for the three murders and is currently 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 case began in 2019, when a family member called the police. Investigators soon realized both children were missing and a multi-state search ensued. Nearly a year later, their remains were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property. Tylee’s DNA was later found on a pickaxe and shovel in a shed on the property, and JJ’s body was wrapped in trash bags and duct tape, prosecutors said.

During a trial that lasted nearly two months, prosecutors said Chad Daybell, a self-published author who wrote apocalyptic novels, promoted unusual spiritual beliefs Including apocalyptic prophecies and tales of possession by evil spirits to justify the killings.

“This has been a difficult case because of its complexity, both in telling the story of an investigation that lasted years and in trying to find the best way to present it in a way that would make sense to the others,” said Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake. said outside the Boise courthouse after the sentencing.

Relatives of the victims welcomed the jury’s decision.

“This is the best justice we can get.” And again, it doesn’t change the outcome, but it’s good news, and it brings closure to everyone who was hurt,” Colby Ryan, Vallow Daybell’s eldest child, told reporters.

Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandfather, thanked the judge, law enforcement and those who followed the case and shared their support over the years.

“You are family,” he said. “I look at the faces, and I’m going to tell you all: I’m going to miss you.”

“We have seen justice,” he added. “Equal, honest and fair. »

Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, argued during the trial that there was insufficient evidence to link Daybell to the murders, and Vallow suggested that Daybell’s older brother, Alex Cox, was the culprit. Cox died in late 2019 and was never charged, and Vallow Daybell was found guilty last year and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

During the sentencing hearing, Prior asked jurors to judge Daybell on her life before she met Vallow Daybell, describing her as a bomb that had blown her way off the trajectory of an otherwise healthy life. But Daybell also refused to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing hearing. Mitigating evidence is often used to encourage jurors to feel sympathy for a defendant, in an attempt to demonstrate that a life sentence would be more appropriate than capital punishment.

Family members of the victims gave emotional statements to jurors. JJ Vallow’s grandmother, Kay Woodcock, tearfully described how the 7-year-old showed empathy and compassion to others through gentle touches and frequently asking if those around him were OK. She also said Tylee was a doting big sister and it warmed her heart to see them together.

“I can’t express how much I wish I had more time to make memories,” Woodcock said as she began to cry.

Vallow Daybell eldest Ryan described what it was like to lose his entire family. His father died years earlier.

“My three children will never know the kindness of Tylee’s heart or JJ’s goofy, goofy personality…The only way I can describe the impact of losing their lives is like the dropping of a nuclear bomb” , did he declare. “It’s no exaggeration to say that I lost everything.”

To impose the death penalty, jurors had to unanimously conclude that Daybell met at least one of the “aggravating circumstances” that under state law qualify a person for the death penalty. They also had to agree that these aggravating circumstances were not outweighed by mitigating circumstances that could have lessened his guilt or justified a lesser sentence.

The jury decided there were aggravating factors, including a callous disregard for human life and particularly heinous and cruel killings.

Idaho law allows execution by lethal injection or firing squad, although executions by firing squad have never been used in the state.

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