Chad Daybell pretrial hearing: Both sides agree to April 1 trial start

Posted at 1:41 PM, February 20, 2024 and last updated 10:34 AM, February 20, 2024

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho (Court TV) — A pretrial conference for Chad Daybell was held earlier today in Fremont County, Idaho, where attorneys on both sides agreed that they’ll be ready for trial on April 1.

Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, also withdrew a previous motion filed on Jan. 30 in which he had sought more time to review expert disclosures. Prior told the court that the State provided him with an exhibit list last night. A significant list of items is expected to be allowed in.

Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing

FILE – Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing on Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho. An Idaho judge has banned cameras from the courtroom in the high-profile triple murder case against a mom and her new husband, saying he fears the images could prevent a fair trial. Lori Vallow Daybell and her new husband Chad Daybell are accused of conspiring together to kill her two children and his late wife. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool, File)

Daybell faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, as well as the deaths of his current wife’s two youngest children, 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. The kids’ bodies were discovered on Chad’s property in June 2020. Chad also faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft by deception.

In a separate case last year, Chad’s wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

READ MORE: ID v. Lori Vallow Daybell: Doomsday Cult Mom Trial

The trial is slated through May 31 in Ada County, with jury selection expected to be a lengthy process. Judge Steven W. Boyce announced the court’s intention to distribute a jury questionnaire to start the voice dire process. Judge Boyce said he will have a final version of the questionnaire, to be approved by counsel, before it is distributed to potential Ada County jurors.

Judge Boyce also announced that the court had entered an order that the Daybell trial would be live-streamed on the court’s channel. He said witnesses must not observe trial proceedings and that they must vow, under oath, that they haven’t watched the stream before taking the stand. Both the defense and prosecution expressed concerns that witnesses who don’t want to testify might watch the livestream as a way of getting out of testifying.

Also at today’s hearing, Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake told the court that the State filed an amended complaint two days ago; Prior said he had no plans to raise any challenge to the amended indictment. Additionally, the State said it intends to file several motions in limine next week.

READ MORE: Chad Daybell: What’s happening and when is his trial?

The defense also raised concerns regarding the case’s timeline. Prior explained that he has seven expert witnesses scheduled for May, and as he’s flying them in, putting them up and paying them for their time, he fears that if the case goes long or short, he’ll be stuck with a large bill.

Lori Vallow Daybell's Arizona mug shot from Nov. 30, 2023.

Lori Vallow Daybell’s Arizona mug show, taken on Nov. 30, 2023. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

Prior also expressed fear about his witnesses, some of whom testified in Lori’s case, being recalled. Judge Boyce said he would make every effort to avoid recall by getting everyone’s testimony out during their time on the stand. The judge said that as it stands, the April 1-May 31 timeline seems like it’s going to work out, and he urged both sides to coordinate as much as possible for timing purposes.

Lori, who’s facing another trial in Arizona this coming August, was in court yesterday for a scheduling conference. In Arizona, she’s accused of conspiring to kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, as well as her ex-nephew-in-law, Brandon Boudreaux.

If convicted, Chad could face the death penalty.