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Murder trial of Chad Daybell, husband of ‘doomsday’ mom Lori Vallow, set to begin

In this booking photo released by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Chad Daybell is shown. — Ada County Sheriff’s Office

(BOISE, Idaho) –Chad Daybell, the husband of Lori Vallow, is set to go on trial in Idaho in the murders of his wife’s two children, nearly a year after she was convicted of the same crime in a so-called doomsday plot.

His triple-murder trial is scheduled to start on Monday in Ada County with jury selection. It is expected to last around nine weeks, court records show.

Daybell and Vallow were both charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for the 2019 deaths of her children, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16. Their remains were found on an Idaho property belonging to Chad Daybell in June 2020 following a monthslong search, police said.

The complaint alleges that Daybell, 55, “did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying” the homicides of the two children.

Vallow and Daybell were both charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Chad Daybell’s former wife, Tamara Daybell, who died Oct. 19, 2019, less than a month before Lori and Chad married in Hawaii. Vallow was found guilty of all charges in her trial.

Daybell was also charged with his former wife’s murder and with two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on her for which he was the beneficiary, prosecutors said.

Daybell pleaded not guilty to his charges. He faces the death sentence if convicted of murder.

“At this point, we’re ready to go forward and he wants to tell his story,” Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, told ABC Boise affiliate KIVI in an interview ahead of the trial.

“I’ve had three years and 10 months to go through all the evidence, to sort of look at what I want to present to the jury, and I’m looking forward to my opportunity to do that,” Prior told the station.

It is unclear if Vallow will testify at Daybell’s trial. Neither testified in her trial, and her lawyers rested their case without calling any witnesses.

Prior told KIVI “it’s always possible” that anyone who is connected to a case could be called, but stressed: “I’m not telling you I am or the state or anybody is.”

Daybell’s case will be presided over by the same judge in Vallow’s trial, Judge Steve Boyce.

Boyce sentenced Vallow to life in prison without parole for the murders of the two children. The judge had granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the death penalty in her case before her trial began.

In handing down the sentence in July 2023, Boyse said Vallow suffers from mental health issues, adding, “Something radically changed in you that led you to where you are today.”

A mother killing her children is the most “unimaginable type of murder,” he said.

The judge said he didn’t think she’s shown any remorse for the crimes or for those who searched for her children while they were missing.

Vallow, 50, denied murdering her children, saying in court at her sentencing: “Jesus Christ knows the truth of what happened here. … No one was murdered in this case. Accidental deaths happen. Suicides happen. Fatal side effects from medications happen.”

Her attorney filed a notice of appeal in the case last year.

Daybell, the author of many religious fiction books, is Vallow’s fifth husband. The couple both reportedly adhered to a doomsday ideology, with Vallow at one point claiming she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020” and didn’t want anything to do with her family “because she had a more important mission to carry out,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

Friends have said Vallow’s 13-year marriage to her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, started to deteriorate after she became a fan of Daybell’s books, and the two separated in 2019. Their blended family had included Tylee from her third marriage and Charles Vallow’s nephew J.J., whom they adopted.

Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, in 2019 during a confrontation at her Arizona home. Her brother told police he shot his brother-in-law in self-defense. Police were investigating the claims when Cox himself died months later.

Vallow faces charges alleging she killed Charles Vallow and plotted to kill the ex-husband of her niece. She has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree premeditated murder.

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