Judge severs Daybell case, couple to face separate trials

Posted at 4:43 PM, March 2, 2023 and last updated 4:43 PM, March 2, 2023


FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho (Court TV) — The Doomsday Couple Case of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell has been severed after an Idaho judge reversed his prior ruling.

The couple faces several charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder, related to the deaths of Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell and two of Lori’s children, 7-year-old JJ Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, whose bodies were discovered on Chad’s property in June 2020.


According to East Idaho News, Lori appeared in person before District Judge Steven Boyce on Thursday for a status hearing at the Freemont County Courthouse, while Chad appeared virtually.

The reason? Chad’s defense team wants more time to review new DNA evidence from the prosecution.

L to R: Chad daybell, Lori Vallow Daybell

(L) Chad Daybell sits during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool, File)/ (R) Lori Vallow Daybell, center, sits between her attorneys for a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Aug. 16, 2022. (Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News via AP, Pool, File)

The judge’s decision is a win, of sorts, for Chad, whose initial request to sever his case from Lori’s was denied last November. That same month, Lori was found competent to stand trial for the second time, after twice being declared incompetent to stand trial and being committed to a state mental health facility.

In announcing his decision to sever the case, Judge Boyce stated:

“Circumstances can arise, and the court has to take into consideration whether or not going forward with a joint trial, in this case, can impair the due process rights of the defendants. What I’m absolutely not willing to do is engage in any speculation about what this new DNA evidence may end up revealing.”

It is important to note that Lori did not waive her right to a speedy trial, but Chad did. The judge pointed out that allowing the defense time to test the new DNA evidence would push the duration of her trial past the Supreme Court’s six-month time frame, making it a direct violation of Lori’s right to a speedy trial. The Sixth Amendment guarantees Lori the right to a trial without unnecessary delay.

The couple was set to face trial in Ada County on April 3 and as of now, Lori is still expected to go on trial at that time. Chad’s trial, however, has been vacated and will go on at a future date. If convicted, both Chad and Lori face the possibility of the death penalty.