Life or death: Daybells facing serious consequences if convicted on murder charges


ST. ANTHONY, IDAHO (ABC4) – Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell appeared before a judge for the first time since being charged with the murders of his wife and her children Wednesday. If convicted, the state of Idaho could put both of them to death.

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Seated next to his attorney John Prior, Chad Daybell uttered just a few words during the appearance, conducted via Zoom.

“Mr. Daybell can you hear me OK?,” Judge Faren Eddins said. “I need you to speak a little bit louder Mr. Daybell.”

“Yes, I can hear you,” Daybell replied with a slight smirk.

Judge Eddins spent the majority of the nine minute and 31 second proceeding reading off the eight charges against Mr. Daybell, including first degree murder and conspiracy to commit the murders of his former wife, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, and Lori’s children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow. The penalty for each of the six charges is life in prison or death. He also faces two charges of fraud for collecting on Tammy’s life insurance policies, each punishable by 15 years in prison.

“They could all run consecutively, one after the other, or they could run concurrently. Do you understand that?” the judge asked. 

“Yes,” Mr. Daybell responded.

Lori Vallow Daybell faces the same charges for the deaths of her children plus a charge of grand theft for depositing Tylee and J.J.’s monthly Social Security checks after their deaths, but her initial appearance was postponed at the request of her attorney, Mark Means.

“The court took a recess prior to the hearing today and had a sidebar with counsel in chambers,” Judge Eddins said. “Based on the information that was provided to the court, the court finds that there are some exigent circumstances.”

In legal terms, “exigent” means emergency. Although the judge did not elaborate, he granted the defense request to delay the appearance over the prosecutors’ objection.

“The court is going to continue this initial appearance based on the information that was provided to me,” Judge Eddins said.

Judge Eddins did not announce a date or time for Lori’s next appearance, but Chad was ordered to appear on Wednesday, June 9, for a formal arraignment.

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