FREMONT COUNTY, IDAHO (ABC4) – Idaho couple, Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell, are facing multiple murder charges including those for the deaths of Vallow’s two young children: 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. Today, both Chad and Lori Daybell appeared in court after COVID-19 restrictions limited in-person hearings for two years.   

Chad Daybell entered a Fremont County courtroom Tuesday morning. This is his first in-person hearing in years. Those in attendance are few in comparison to his preliminary hearing back in the summer of 2019. However, one familiar face sticks out. It’s Tylee Ryan’s aunt Annie Cushing.   

“We shouldn’t be going through this,” John Prior emphatically stated as he stood next to his client Chad Daybell. “It’s a motion to reconsider. I’m seeking a dismissal right now.”  

At times throughout the hearing, the feeling in the courtroom was tense. The question of the hearing: “When and where should the upcoming murder trial be held?” 

Chad Daybell’s attorney – John Prior – argued it should be held in Boise, Idaho. During a previous hearing, moving the trial to Ada County was granted, however, the District Judge Steven Boyce said the decision was made during a time where so much about how trials would be held in 2022 was unknown. This is because Idaho courthouses observed strict rules to slow the spread of COVID-19, 

On the other side of the room, the prosecution used witnesses to argue that moving forward with a trial in Ada County versus Fremont County would cost over $100,000 more and be less efficient. Witness and Fremont County Clerk Abbie Mace added, “Having some records and exhibits in one county and some in another county, it makes it difficult to maintain a clear record of the case.”  

Abbie Mace also introduced the court to several different options for holding the trial in either county. In all examples, having the trial take place in Ada County cost more. John Prior objected to this claim. “Frankly judge, if these were given to her by somebody else, there’s a clear foundation problem and I believe there’s a clear foundation problem,” Prior stated.  

The judge overruled the objection. At the close of all arguments, the judge said he would take the matter into consideration and make a ruling (to be released in written form) at a later date.  

Lori Vallow Daybell did not appear during this hearing, however, she asked that she now be referred to as Lori Daybell, dropping the Vallow from her name as it appears on court records. She also submitted a preference stating that she would prefer the trial to be held in Boise.  

Shortly after the hearing, Lori Daybell did appear in court to be arraigned. Daybell’s arraignment came after her case had been stayed (or paused) nearly a year ago, after she was found incompetent to stand trial. Just recently, the court found that she had been restored to competence and the stay on her case was lifted.  

During her arraignment, JJ Vallow’s grandparents (Kay and Larry Woodcock) could be seen in the audience. The two have travelled cross-country to attend nearly all in-person hearings. As the judge read Daybell her charges, the grandparents became emotional. They leaned on one another and wiped tears from their eyes.  

Daybell only spoke to answer the judge when he asked her if she understood her charges. Her “yes” was so soft that the courtroom microphones barely picked up the audio. She didn’t say anything else. Her attorney, Jim Archibald, addressed Judge Boyce, saying, “Your honor, she intends to remain silent. I’ll ask the court to enter not guilty pleas for her and set the matter for trial.”