Witness reveals defense attorney owns Chad Daybell’s house

Posted at 2:18 PM, April 26, 2024 and last updated 12:49 PM, April 26, 2024

BOISE, Idaho (Court TV) — During a contentious cross-examination on Friday, one of the witnesses in Chad Daybell‘s murder trial revealed that his defense attorney now owns the property where two of the victims’ bodies were found buried.

Chad Daybell booking photo

Chad Daybell is charged with the murders of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and his second wife’s two youngest children. (Ada County Jail)

Daybell is charged with the murders of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and his second wife’s two youngest children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. The children’s bodies were found buried on his property in Fremont County, Idaho, in June 2020. Chad’s second wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was already convicted on similar charges and was sentenced to multiple life terms.

READ MORE | ID v. Chad Daybell: Doomsday Prophet Murder Trial

Prosecutors have been meticulously laying out their case against Chad as the trial ends its third week. On Friday, they called one of Chad and Tammy’s neighbors, a realtor named Ron Arnold, to testify. The cross-examination, conducted by Chad’s defense attorney John Prior, became heated as the questioning focused on his home.

Prior: “You’re familiar with [Chad Daybell’s] house, right?”
Arnold: “No. I have never been inside that house. I’ve been in the foyer, they have a breezeway or an entryway, and that’s as far as I’ve ever been in that house.”
Prior: “Did you familiarize yourself with the property surrounding that house?”
Arnold: “When we talked about splitting the property, it was about the acreage, not about the house or floor plan or those kinds of things.”
Prior: “Okay, so the acreage that you’re talking about do you have any recollection of how much acreage we’re talking around that surrounds Chad’s house?”
Arnold: “You own it. How many acres is it?”
Prior: “Well … I don’t know.”

Prior then asked for a sidebar, after which Judge Steven Boyce instructed the jurors to disregard Arnold’s last statement and not to discuss the topic or speculate about it in deliberations. Judge Boyce additionally admonished Arnold to stay away from the topic during future questioning.

RELATED | Doomsday Cult: Who’s who in the world of Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell

photo of daybell home

A photo shows the home on Chad Daybell’s former property. (Fremont County Assessor)

Property records reviewed by Court TV indicate that what Arnold said is true: John Prior does own the property where the Daybells used to live in Fremont County. The latest deed transfer date listed is May 2021, which is the same month Prior was hired to take Chad’s case.

Before the murder trial began, Prior tried to withdraw from the case, citing, in part, Chad’s finances. Though Prior was initially hired with Chad using personal funds, the defendant has since been declared indigent. Judge Boyce ruled that Prior needed to stay on the case, regardless of whether he would be paid.