Chad Daybell: After two-day preliminary hearing judge rules case may proceed

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Defense attorney John Prior, right, addresses Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins as to why he and Chad Daybell, left, are not wearing masks in court during a preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Monday, August 3, 2020. The preliminary hearing will help a judge decide if the charges against Chad Daybell will move forward in state court. Daybell, 52, is charged with concealing evidence by destroying or hiding the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan at his eastern Idaho home. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A detective Monday described in excruciating details how investigators unearthed the remains of two children who had been missing for months while searching the rural Idaho property of a man charged with concealing evidence.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to hold Chad Daybell for trial. He and the children’s mother face charges related to the hiding of the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, although authorities have yet to say how the two died, or whether homicide charges will be filed in the case that has attracted worldwide headlines.

Daybell late last year married Lori Vallow Daybell, who’s charged with conspiring to help him keep the bodies of her children hidden. Both have pleaded not guilty in the case that has ties to doomsday beliefs and the mysterious deaths of others close to the couple.

Rexburg Police Detective Ray Hermosillo said “JJ” Vallow’s body was found beneath fresh sod, under which were three large white flat rocks in a row and then a piece of wood paneling. He said the body was buried in a black plastic bag covered in duct tape.

He said when the body was taken to the medical examiner’s office, investigators found a white plastic garbage bag over the boy’s head covered with layers of tightly wound duct tape. Hermosillo said the boy’s wrists and ankles were also bound with duct tape, and that more duct tape bound together his forearms over his chest. The boy was dressed in red pajamas and was wearing black socks.

The case has drawn so much attention that Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood recently hired a public relations firm to handle the influx of media requests. Authorities have not given details on exactly what they believe happened to the children.

Chad Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, also will get a chance to argue his side during the hearing, that is expected to continue Tuesday. Neither the couple nor their lawyers have spoken publicly about the case.

In most preliminary hearings, defense attorneys try to show the judge that prosecutors’ evidence is not strong enough to justify sending the case to trial.

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