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HomeLocal NewsUtahIdaho jury continues deliberations in case against Chad Daybell

Idaho jury continues deliberations in case against Chad Daybell

BOISE — A jury of 12 people returned to the Ada County courthouse Thursday morning to continue deliberations in the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell.

They received the case after closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, and deliberated for about two hours before ending their day. The jurors resumed deliberations at 8 a.m. Thursday.

During closing arguments, Fremont County prosecutor Lindsay Blake painted a picture for jurors of Chad Daybell as the leader, “gatherer” or mastermind of the deaths. Lori Vallow Daybell, her brother Alex Cox and Chad Daybell’s other followers sought direction from him, as the self-appointed leader of the Church of the Firstborn.

She said Lori Daybell and multiple witnesses at the trial looked to him as he rated whether others were “light” or “dark” — his perception of their countenance, or, as witnesses explained, how close a person is to being exalted, like God — as he rated their death percentages. They said Chad Daybell used death percentages when individuals had perceived demons inside them, meaning the person was closer to death.

He convinced Lori Daybell that the two of them were married in previous lives and, because of that, it was OK for them to be together and eventually marry again. Blake said he manipulated Lori Daybell into believing he was providing protection for her, and threatened to take it away when she once ignored him. When she stopped ignoring him, he promised her his protections were back.

Blake said Chad Daybell called the shots.

Daybell gave blessings, including one to Cox in November 2019, after the three deaths, telling him, “You’ve already assisted us in ways that can never be repaid. And you will continue to do so.” Chad Daybell also told Cox, in the blessing, that his actions were approved by Jesus, who wanted to tell him, “Well done.”

Blake said it was Chad Daybell who taught the group about castings and, after a successful casting, a body would die or “naturally expire.”

Each time, she said, the body of those who were declared “dark” would die. In court, Chad Daybell shook his head “no” — a contrast to his blank face while she talked about his manipulation.

Blake said Chad Daybell used all these manipulations to declare 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, Tammy Daybell and Lori Daybell’s husband Charles Vallow as “dark,” zombies, possessed, or as people with a low death percentage. And because of that, Blake said Chad Daybell essentially declared: “Tammy had to die,” and “Tylee has to die,” and “JJ has to die.”

“All three victims gone too soon,” the prosecutor said.

She reminded jurors they don’t have to be convinced Chad Daybell murdered the three himself to be found guilty, but that he “advised, assisted, encouraged, commanded or coerced” the deaths to happen. Blake argued that Daybell planned to get rid of the obstructions so that he could have money, power and sex with Lori Daybell. She said the children and their spouses were “obstacles,” using a word from Chad and Lori Daybell’s text messages.

Defense attorney John Prior pointed blame at anyone other than Chad Daybell in his closing arguments, saying Chad Daybell was duped by Lori Daybell and others around her. He was just the next victim.

Prior said his client had no idea the two children were buried in his own backyard until officers uncovered the bodies on June 9, 2020, and he blamed Lori Daybell and Cox for setting up Chad Daybell.

He said Cox, Lori Daybell’s brother whose cellphone data placed him in Chad Daybell’s backyard near where the bodies were found the day after each of them were last seen, had motive to kill JJ and Tylee because the children had witnessed him murdering Charles Vallow.

Prior said Chad Daybell, as Lori Daybell’s fifth husband, was set up to provide the next life insurance payout for her and was set up as a fall guy for the murders.

Prior painted Chad Daybell as a man with unique beliefs who liked to share them — a “pot-stirrer” who was targeted as the culprit in this case by officers who did not like his beliefs. He said confirmation bias led them to look at Chad Daybell as the only suspect and not at other players in the case.

He said officers “absolutely failed in their investigation.”

If they had looked more at location history and DNA, Prior said investigators would have connected Melanie Gibb, a woman who was staying with Lori Daybell when officers believe JJ was killed, to his death. He said Gibb was the real religious ringleader.

Prior was also adamant Tammy Daybell’s death was not homicide, but that she died of natural causes. He said it would be impossible for Chad Daybell to kill her the way prosecutors claim he did.

Chad Daybell is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of JJ, Tylee and Tammy Daybell, in late 2019. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of each of the victims, grand theft and two counts of insurance fraud.

Lori Daybell was found guilty of her role in the murders following a trial last year, and was given five sentences of life in prison without parole. If he is found guilty, Chad Daybell could potentially be given the death penalty.

This story may be updated.

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