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Prosecution agrees to change of venue in Daybell case, motions for sequestered jury

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Judge orders trial tied to discovery of missing kids' bodies

Chad Daybell, left, sits with his defense attorney John Prior during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. 

REXBURG — The Fremont County Prosecutor’s Office agreed Thursday to a change of venue in the scheduled jury trial for Chad Daybell.

District Judge Steven Boyce told both sides of the criminal case that even though they both agreed to a change of venue, he still would have to be convinced in a motion hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

The attorneys also will discuss Tuesday whether the jury trial should be held in another county, or if a jury should be brought in from another county to hear Daybell’s case. The prosecution said they favored bringing the jury to Fremont County.

Special Prosecutor Rob Wood also filed a motion to sequester the jury during the trial to reduce the risk its decision will be influenced.

A sequestered jury is required to stay in a hotel during the course of a trial, so jurors are less likely to be exposed to media about the case or have their view of the trial influenced by friends or family.

Defense Attorney John Prior expressed frustration that the motion was filed just days before the motion to change venue. He accused the prosecution of “sitting on” the motion and “grandstanding.”

Wood took issue with Prior’s description of the motion’s timing, telling the judge Prior “has no right to make that accusation, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Boyce agreed that Prior was jumping to conclusions. He agreed to hear the motion to sequester the jury on Tuesday, saying it related to the motion to change venue.

Daybell is facing multiple felony charges, most notably three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his former wife Tammy Daybell and the deaths of his current wife Lori Vallow’s two children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow. Tammy Daybell died Oct. 19, 2019. Law enforcement have not said how they believe Chad Daybell killed Tammy Daybell. The children, who were last seen alive in September 2019, were found buried in Daybell’s backyard in June 2020.

The Fremont County Prosecutor’s Office has indicated it intends to seek the death penalty against Daybell. In Idaho a death sentence can only be issued by a jury.

Lori Vallow faces similar charges to Daybell, but her case has been placed on hold due to concerns about her mental health and her ability to contribute to her own defense.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly said Lori Vallow is only being represented by defense attorney James Archibald. She is also being represented by defense attorney Mark Means.

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