Chad Daybell's Attorney Wants Charges Dismissed, Venue Changed in Idaho Kids Case

Chad Daybell faces four felony charges related to the disappearance and deaths of his wife's two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Chad Daybell's attorney is asking an Idaho judge to dismiss the charges against him or try him in a different county than the one in which he allegedly concealed the remains of his wife's two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan

Judge Steven Boyce granted Chad's attorney, John Prior, more time to prepare for a hearing on Prior's motion to dismiss, court documents show. Prior's Aug. 27 motion claims that Fremont County special prosecutor Rob Wood did not present sufficient evidence against Chad during his two-day preliminary hearing, which Prior has requested a full transcript of to prepare his case for dismissal.  

During the Aug. 3 and 4 preliminary hearing, Wood called numerous law enforcement officers, forensic experts and former friends to the stand as part of his case against Chad. A magistrate judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to move the case to district court. Now, district court judge Boyce has ruled that the court has until Oct. 1 to provide Prior with a transcript at Chad's expense, according to court documents

Last week, Prior also filed a motion for change of venue, arguing that a "fair and impartial jury trial cannot be had in Fremont County." 

Chad, a Latter-day Saint author and publisher, moved to Fremont County in 2015 from Utah after writing on his website that "the Spirit" told him to. The message came while he and his first wife, Tammy, were vacationing at a cabin in the area in 2014.  

"On the way to the cabin, we stopped at a gas station in the town of St. Anthony, north of Rexburg. As I filled the van with gas, I looked south back over the valley. A voice simply said, 'You’ll live here soon,'" Chad wrote on his website. "After our vacation, I went to the Provo Temple to get a confirmation about the prompting. The Spirit assured me it was true, but I was still left in the dark concerning the timing." 

In February 2015, Chad wrote that another voice came to him and told him, "Moving to Rexburg will be a tremendous blessing to your children and your grandchildren." 

The house where Chad and Tammy lived with their children is the same one where police discovered JJ and Tylee's remains on June 9, buried in the backyard. Tammy was found dead at the home months earlier on Oct. 19, 2019 and her death remains under investigation. 

Following the discovery of the children's remains, Chad was charged with willfully destroying, concealing or altering evidence and conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Chad has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of wrongdoing. He is currently set to go on trial in January in Fremont County. 

Lori is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on felony charges of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in Fremont County. Her attorney, Mark Means, recently filed a document asking for more time to file a motion to transfer her trial, signaling he may also seek a change of venue for Lori. Lori has previously pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of wrongdoing. 

If the prosecutor on the case gets his way, however, Chad and Lori will be tried together. Last week, Wood filed a motion to join their cases, writing that "due to the nature of the conspiracy charges alleged against the Daybells, the State's evidence in both cases is nearly identical and the trial for each case will be nearly identical." 

"The evidence presented at Chad Daybell's preliminary hearing, which will be expanded on at trial, established that the Daybells acted in concert to mislead law enforcement and others in regards to the location of the deceased children's bodies. Judicial economy would require that the State not be required to try essentially identical cases of a husband and wife acting as co-conspirators twice," Wood added in the memorandum filed on Sept. 1.

Wood also argued that "due to the sensitive nature of this case, the family members of the deceased victims should not be required to endure multiple repetitive trials and hearings when the case can and should be consolidated." 

JJ's biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, fought back tears during Chad's preliminary hearing when law enforcement officers testified about the condition in which they had found the 7-year-old's body, which was covered in garbage bags and duct tape. Lori's only living child, Colby Ryan, and his wife have also attended his mother's hearings and spoken out about their heartbreak over losing JJ and Tylee. 

In addition to the two felony charges in Fremont County, Lori also faces misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt in nearby Madison County. A trial has been set on those charges for Jan. 25 to Jan. 29, 2021 before Judge Michelle Radford Mallard, according to court documents. Lori has previously pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of wrongdoing. 

Separately, Chad and Lori are currently under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in Tammy's death. Chad and Lori married on a beach in Hawaii weeks after she was found dead. 

Lori also remains a person of interest in the July 2019 shooting death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, and could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder in that case, according to the Chandler, Arizona police department. 

Chad and Lori's attorneys have not responded to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment.

The Rexburg Police Department asks anyone with information regarding the case to contact them at 1-208-359-3000.