ST. ANTHONY, Idaho (ABC4) — During a pre-trial conference for the Daybells, the judge said he will issue a decision on whether they will be tried separately or jointly. And the court discusses concerns about using mental health as a defense for the Daybells.
Lori and Chad Daybell are being tried on April 3rd. They were charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. They will be on trial for allegedly murdering Lori’s children “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, as well as Chad’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell.
According to information obtained at the pre-trial conference by Nate Eaton of East Idaho News, Chad Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, is the one who urged District Judge Steven Boyce to separate the cases.
Prior said that they will not be prepared for trial for the day it is currently set. “The trial is going to start in 21 business days to date,” Prior said. “Unless I’m mistaken, there is DNA evidence that is still outstanding that I don’t have in my possession.”
Larry and Kay Woodcock, Vallow’s grandparents, who attended the hearing, said they believe their trial should remain joint, according to Eaton.
“I think they should be together. I don’t see any reason for separating them,” Larry Woodcock said. “If the defense is not prepared, that’s the defense’s problem. They’re the ones who stood up long ago and said they’re ready for trial.”
According to Fremont County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tawnya Rawlings, the evidence the attorney is talking about is hair that is currently being tested at a private lab in California. Rawlings said she expects results on the DNA on Thursday, Eaton reported.
“We don’t have the results now,” Rawlings said. “We don’t know whether they were able to obtain anything. We just know they have the ability to test the hair in a more extensive manner than the state lab.”
In the pre-trial, Eaton reported that Prior claimed he won’t have enough time to go through other new evidence as well. The prosecutors admitted that there were some items turned over to him in the past few weeks, but only because they were found during trial preparations. Prosecutors said the majority of evidence has been available to Prior since Jan. 2021.
“The defendant has waited until the eve of trial to raise this issue,” Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsay Blake said. “The defendant did not request to come and look at the discovery he’s known about for two years. Now, on the eve of trial, he’s saying he was not given adequate time to review the evidence. The state has made accommodations any time the defense has asked to review discovery.”
The judge said he will issue a written decision on whether Chad and Lori’s cases will be severed, or whether they will be tried together.
According to Eaton’s observation of the pre-trial, there were also some concerns about the attorneys’ possible use of Daybell’s mental health as a defense. Prosecutors seemed especially concerned about the use of Lori’s mental health.
“The state absolutely intends to talk about issues regarding her beliefs during the guilt phase,” Blake said. “With that, we are concerned the defense may then open the door to argue mental health as a defense of the crime.”
However, the attorneys for the Daybells said they will not use their clients’ mental health as a defense during the guilt phase of the trial. But, if the jury finds Lori Daybell guilty, her attorney may use mental health evidence, the pre-trial stated.
“The mental health evidence we intend to present is if she is convicted,” Archibald said. “She believes she will not be convicted, so the mental health evidence should not be presented.”
As of right now, their trial is scheduled for April 3rd, however, if the Judge motions to separate their cases, the date may change.
Woodcock said they will wait as long as it takes for justice to be served, and it’s “time to give those kids [Vallow and Ryan] some rest,” they told East Idaho news.
“We just want to move forward in a positive way. I don’t see the evidence proving anything different other than they are guilty as charged,” Woodcock said. “When this is over, they’re going to be sitting in jail for a lifetime, as far as we’re concerned.”