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September 27, 2021

Idaho prosecutors say they’ll seek death penalty for Chad Daybell

Chad Daybell walks into court for his wife’s hearing on child abandonment in Lihue, Hawaii in February 2020. Prosecutors in Idaho declared Thursday they will seek the death penalty for Daybell, who is charged with murder in the deaths of his former spouse and his new wife’s two children. He is married to Lori Vallow Daybell. (Dennis Fujimoto, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors in Idaho declared Thursday they will seek the death penalty for Chad Daybell if he is convicted of murder or conspiracy in the deaths of his former spouse and his new wife’s two children.

In a notice of intent to seek the death penalty filed in Idaho’s 7th District Court, the attorneys said they may ultimately do so based on a number of aggravating factors, include that the killings were carried out “for renumeration” and were “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.”

Daybell has pleaded not guilty to three counts each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the deaths of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, Tylee Ryan and Tammy Daybell. The case has centered around the couple’s apocalyptic religious beliefs, the deaths of several close to them and their beliefs in “zombies” that take over a person’s body.

Lori Daybell’s son JJ was 7 at the time he vanished in 2019, and his older sister was just a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday. Investigators uncovered the remains of the two Idaho children at Chad Daybell’s Salem property in June 2020.

A grand jury in Idaho indicted Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell for murder in the case involving their reported doomsday religious beliefs and the mysterious deaths of their former spouses. The couple wed about two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death.

Lori Daybell faces an additional charge of conspiracy after her former husband Charles Vallow was shot and killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in 2019.

Fremont County prosecutor Lindsey Blake and Madison County prosecutor Rob Wood said in the Thursday court filing that they might also argue for the death penalty based on Chad Daybell’s behavior that “exhibited a propensity to commit murder, which will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.” They did not provide details.

Lori Daybell’s case in Idaho is on hold after a psychological evaluation found she is not competent to stand trial and a judge ordered her to undergo mental health treatment.

The evaluation had determined she is not competent, meaning she cannot properly assist in her own defense or fully understand the case tied to the disappearance of her two children, who vanished in 2019.

Additionally, Chad Daybell is charged with two counts of insurance fraud tied to life insurance policies for Tammy Daybell.

A five-week trial is set to begin in November.

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