Chad Daybell’s attorneys ask Idaho to take death penalty off the table
Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, were charged as co-defendants in the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, and Daybell’s previous wife, Tamara Douglas Daybell
MERIDIAN, Idaho — Chad Daybell's attorneys on Thursday asked Idaho to take the death penalty off the table in his case, arguing that Lori Vallow Daybell was considered more "culpable" but the state withheld the death penalty as a possible sentence in her case.
Daybell and his wife were charged as co-defendants in the deaths of Vallow Daybell's children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow, and Daybell's previous wife, Tamara Douglas Daybell.
The state of Idaho filed its intent to seek the death penalty against Daybell in August 2021 and Vallow Daybell in May 2022. Daybell waived his right to a speedy trial in August 2021.
Judge Steven Boyce decided to sever the couple's cases in March after new DNA testing was given to all parties involved in the case. Since the results came back so close to the scheduled April 3 trial date, the defense attorneys for both Daybell and Vallow Daybell felt there was too little time for additional testing to be done on the sample.
Boyce said because the evidence was not given to the defense in a timely manner, and Vallow Daybell refused to waive her right to a speedy trial, he felt there was no option but to sever the cases. Boyce also granted a motion to dismiss the death penalty for Vallow Daybell in March, ahead of her trial, saying he did so "to ensure the rights of the defendant to a fair trial are protected."
Vallow Daybell was found guilty in May of killing her two children and conspiring to kill her new husband's wife in the high-profile murder case. She was sentenced to life without parole in July.
Daybell's attorneys argue in the new motions that the death penalty should be taken off the table because it is "arbitrary, capricious and disproportionate" in light of the death penalty being struck from his wife's case.
The attorneys say the court struck the death penalty against Vallow Daybell in March because it was "an appropriate discovery sanction" and "necessary" to ensure her rights were protected. They allege that if Daybell had not waived his right to a speedy trial, he would not still be facing the death penalty.
"The court did not extend the decision to Mr. Daybell, even though the state had committed the same discovery violations against Mr. Daybell, since he had waived his speedy trial rights. As such, the court has permitted the continued pursuit of only one co-defendant's death due solely to that defendant's waiver of speedy trial rights," Daybell's attorneys wrote.
They also allege in the motion that the state is not seeking the death penalty "because Mr. Daybell is more culpable or somehow deemed more deserving of the death penalty."
His defense team said if the court continues to seek the death penalty for Daybell, it would establish a "dangerous precedent" for cases with co-defendants.
They added when Daybell waived his right to a speedy trial, he did not know it would lead to a situation where he would be facing "far more severe punishment" than Vallow "solely on the basis of this asserted right."
Daybell's attorneys claimed in the motions that Vallow Daybell was more culpable than him. During Vallow Daybell's trial, the state argued she was the "most culpable party" in the alleged conspiracy and that she manipulated Daybell through emotional and sexual control into executing the plan, according to his attorneys.
"As such, per the state's own presentation of evidence and arguments in the trial of Lori Vallow, Mr. Daybell has lesser culpability than his co-defendant who did not face the death penalty," the document states. "Only the person alleged to be the manipulated follower is facing the possibility of the death penalty."
The attorneys request Daybell face a maximum punishment in line with "the co-defendant alleged to be more culpable."
Additionally, his attorneys asked that the state be limited to arguments consistent to those used by prosecutors in Vallow Daybell's trial regarding Daybell's culpability.
Prosecutors asked the state to present "the same theory" they said was presented during Daybell Vallow's case: that Vallow Daybell was the driving force behind the conspiracy that led to the three deaths, and that Daybell was manipulated by his new wife and he "would not have acted without direction from Lori Vallow."
"It would plainly be inconsistent with the core of the state's case to argue in Mr. Daybell's trial that he was the person that planned or set in motion a conspiracy leading to these deaths," the attorneys wrote.
A hearing will be held on Nov. 29 for all three motions at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho.