Prosecution asks judge to keep death penalty punishment in Daybell case

Chad Daybell qualifies for the death penalty due to his alleged role in the deaths of his first wife along with the deaths of two children, writes the state in a Nov. 22 court filing.

In the motion, the prosecution asked Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce to keep the death penalty on the table for Daybell.

“The potential imposition of the death penalty against the Defendant is appropriate,” wrote Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake.

A second motion filed the same day asks Boyce to refrain from limiting what the state has to say about Daybell’s culpability in the crime.

Daybell is accused of killing his first wife Tammy Daybell and in the slayings of J.J. Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, the children of his current wife Lori Vallow-Daybell. An Ada County jury recently found her guilty on similar charges. On July 31, Boyce sentenced her to three life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Attorney John Prior, Chad Daybell’s lawyer, recently filed a motion stating that because the death penalty was removed from Lori Vallow-Daybell’s case,Chad Daybell shouldn’t face the death penalty as he is less culpable in the crime. Prior wrote that Chad Daybell did whatever Lori Vallow-Daybell wanted him to do thus making Chad Daybell less guilty.

The state disagreed.

“Any challenge to the culpability of the defendant versus the co-defendant and/or disparity in their sentences is premature because a jury has not heard and weighed the evidence in the case against the Defendant,” wrote the state.

The state indicted Chad Daybell and Vallow-Daybell on May 24, 2021. They were charged with the murders of the two children. Vallow-Daybell was also charged in the conspiracy to kill Tammy Daybell while Chad Daybell faces murder charges in Tammy Daybell’s death. The state also accuses Chad Daybell of insurance fraud after he collected $430,000 in life insurance payouts following his wife’s death.

Boyce removed the death penalty as a punishment for Vallow-Daybell after additional evidence was gathered just weeks before her then scheduled April 1, 2023, trial. As she had not waived her right to a speedy trial, and Chad had waived his, Boyce severed the two cases.

The state also noted that Chad Daybell faces a separate murder charge in the case.

“The defendant has an additional charge of first-degree murder than that of his co-defendant, as well as two charges in relation to profiting off of Tammy Daybell’s death for which the co-defendant was not specifically charged,” wrote the state. “The potential imposition of the death penalty against the defendant is appropriate and is not being pursued in an arbitrary, capricious or disproportionate manner.”

The prosecution listed several court cases dealing with similar matters.

“The crux of the defendant’s argument is that he potentially is going to be punished more severely than his co-defendant based solely upon his waiver of a speedy trial,” they wrote.

Such a notion is wrong, prosecutors wrote.

“This is simply a misplaced and unfounded argument — when the death penalty is not imposed on one defendant, it does not automatically limit the imposition of the death penalty to a codefendant or conspirator.”

The state does not believe that Vallow-Daybell was any more guilty of the crimes than is her husband, prosecutors wrote.

“To the contrary, the state’s theory of the case, and belief, has always been that both Lori Vallow-Daybell and the defendant manipulated each other and those around them to achieve their common goal of being together,” prosecutors wrote.

That goal meant killing Tammy Daybell, Tylee Ryan and J.J. all for financial gain, they stated.

“The defendant also wrongly draws the conclusion that even if co-defendants are equally culpable, one cannot face the death penalty where the other is not given the death penalty.”

Prosecutors noted past legal decisions where those involved in similar crimes were given different sentences.

“This may be one of those cases,” they wrote. “The defendant voluntarily chose to waive his right to a speedy trial, the defendant repeatedly made attempts to sever his trial from his co-defendant’s trial (and he was finally successful), and he also repeatedly requested a continuance of his trial.”

The prosecution noted that Chad Daybell had “cherry-picked” a few statements during Vallow-Daybell’s trial to “modify what the evidence establishes, and what the state has always purported with regard to the culpability of the defendant and his co-defendant.”

Chad Daybell and Vallow-Daybell are both to blame for what happened, wrote the prosecution.

“Daybell was as culpable — if not more culpable than the co-defendant — including the additional charges the defendant faces.”

In the second filing, prosecutors objected to the defense trying to limit what the state can say about Chad Daybell’s guilt compared to Vallow-Daybell’s.

“(The) defendant’s motion lacks legal merit and misrepresents the State of Idaho’s arguments at Lori Daybell’s trial,” the prosecution wrote. “Further, the Defendant’s motion ignores the law of conspiracy and aiding/abetting/principal as defined by Idaho statutes and case law.”

The state wrote that Idaho law doesn’t create a distinction of “comparative guilt among co-conspirators.” During Vallow-Daybell’s trial, prosecutors wrote they never said Vallow-Daybell was the guilty party in the crime. Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell are equally guilty of the crimes they are alleged to have committed, prosecutors wrote.

“The State argued and established at Lori Daybell’s trial, and the jury found, that Chad and Lori Daybell conspired together to commit murder,” they stated.

Boyce is expected to announce his ruling on the death penalty in Chad Daybell’s case in the near future.

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