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Defense subpoena targets Idaho journalist in criminal case for Lori, Chad Daybell

SHARE Defense subpoena targets Idaho journalist in criminal case for Lori, Chad Daybell

Investigators in Idaho said June 9, 2020, they recovered human remains in the backyard of Chad Daybell’s home in Salem.

John Wilson, Deseret News

A defense attorney for the Idaho author accused of working to keep the remains of his wife’s children hidden is seeking to question a journalist from an online publication that has covered the case closely.

The subpoena from Chad Daybell’s defense team aims to have Nate Eaton, news director at the EastIdahoNews.com, testify as a witness in the case in St. Anthony, Idaho, on June 9. The document doesn’t provide details.

The disappearance of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his sister, Tylee Ryan – followed by the discovery of their remains in Daybell’s yard in June 2020 – have brought international attention to a rural part of the state not far from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The case has delved into rumors of the couple’s apocalyptic religious beliefs and the deaths of their former spouses.

Attorney Jeffrey Hunt said the First Amendment protects the independence of the press so that reporters can cover cases without having to testify about them. He said he will ask a judge to quash the subpoena, which would invalidate it, if defense attorney John Prior doesn’t withdraw the request.

“News reporters should not be conscripted as witnesses for either side in a criminal case, particularly in a case of such enormous interest and concern,” Hunt wrote in the statement that Eaton posted on Twitter.

The subpoena was signed Monday by a deputy clerk in Idaho’s 7th Judicial District, court records show.

Heather Daybell, Chad Daybell’s sister-in-law, was also issued a subpoena ordering her to testify at an upcoming hearing.

Chad and Lori Daybell have both pleaded not guilty to two felony charges alleging they worked together to keep evidence concealed. Chad Daybell also faces two more counts of destroying or hiding evidence.

The couple was scheduled to go on trial in July but the cases have been pushed back indefinitely after their defense attorneys asked for more time.

Prosecutors haven’t charged anyone in the deaths of the children, ages 7 and 17.

In Arizona, Lori Daybell’s brother Alex Cox shot and killed her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, before dying of a blood clot in his lungs. Authorities said they tracked Cox’s cellphone data to areas of Chad Daybell’s yard where the children’s remains were uncovered.