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Hair samples may be tested for DNA in Daybell case

Testing of hair samples is expected to begin and prosecution argues that Lori Vallow is eligible for the death penalty

SHARE Hair samples may be tested for DNA in Daybell case
Lori Vallow Daybell sits between her attorneys for a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho.

Lori Vallow Daybell, center, sits between her attorneys for a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Aug. 16, 2022

Tony Blakeslee, East Idaho News via Associated Press

After Lori Vallow gave a notice of alibi last week and her attorney argued that she shouldn’t be eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors say they plan to offer “sufficient evidence” that Vallow should qualify for the death penalty if convicted. Additional DNA testing of hair samples is expected to begin.

J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan, Vallow’s children, went missing in September 2019. Their bodies were later found on June 9, 2020, in the yard of Vallow’s husband, Chad Daybell.

Vallow and Daybell were investigated for the children’s deaths, along with the deaths of their former spouses. They were both charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the deaths of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow, first-degree murder for the deaths of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell.

DNA testing of recently discovered hair samples

Additional hair samples were recently discovered at the Idaho State Lab and may be tested, according to a court filing.

East Idaho News reported, “Based on court documents filed in July, it’s likely the hair came from duct tape inside a body bag used to transport JJ’s remains, but the new filings do not provide specifics.”

The court document said that if the sample is large enough, then it will be split between both the state and the defense for testing at their preferred locations. In the case that the sample isn’t large enough, they will reconvene and decide what to do with the sample.

The prosecution has sought DNA testing in the past. According to the Rexburg Standard Journal, the prosecution was looking to do what’s called consumptive DNA testing. This means that in the process of testing the evidence, it’s likely to be destroyed due to its small size.

Thus, the tests can only be run once. The prosecution wanted to test the adhesive side of the duct tape found on J.J.’s body, J.J.’s right hand and spots on a shovel and pickaxe found in Chad Daybell’s garage, per the Rexburg Standard Journal.

After the prosecution motioned to use consumptive testing, East Idaho News reported that they had reached an agreement on how to move forward with testing.

Death penalty eligibility for Lori Vallow

Last week, Vallow’s attorneys filed a motion saying that Vallow shouldn’t be eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors objected and argued that she should be eligible for the death penalty.

According to the objection, the prosecution will introduce evidence at the trial that they say “will establish that the Defendant intended for her children and her boyfriend’s wife to die, and that she affirmatively acted to make those deaths happen.” The prosecution argued that the charges Vallow was indicted on are charges that the state of Idaho’s laws consider death penalty eligible.

On Thursday, District Judge Stephen Boyce will respond to this motion.

Will the trial be postponed again?

It’s unclear.

The trial is currently expected to begin on April 3 in Ada County. Chad Daybell’s attorney had requested that the trial be postponed to 2024 in a recent motion, but the prosecution responded to this motion and said that the trial should continue as planned.

East Idaho News reported that the prosecution said Daybell had been represented by his current attorney for three years. “Presumably, given the length and nature of the representation, it would seem the defendant has had adequate time to consult with his counsel and provide him information necessary to obtain any relevant documents and evidence,” prosecutors wrote.

On Thursday, Boyce will also respond to this motion.