The trials for Lori and Chad Daybell will be combined, District Judge Steven Boyce ruled Thursday morning. During the virtual hearing, Chad Daybell and his attorney, John Prior appeared alongside the judge and Special Prosecutor Rob Wood of Madison County Prosecutor's Office in a live streaming on East Idaho News.
Wood requested Sept. 1 that the two cases be combined for efficiency sake –– given the prosecutor's offices' plan to use the same evidence and witnesses for both Chad and Lori. He argued that in the event that the cases were kept separate, there would have to be "duplicative work" for two separate judges and two sets of court staff.
The cost for bringing witnesses for both cases would also be higher, he said, and separate trials could lead to inconsistencies for rulings on evidence that may lead to potential appeals, Wood argued. Wood also argued that separate trials would create inconvenience for various witnesses who lived out of the state of Idaho.
Prior, on the other hand, argued that combining the trials would attract greater media attention, claiming it would become difficult to find an unbiased jury ultimately making the trial unfair for Chad.
In response, Wood said, “Separate cases absolutely mean more hearings, more media coverage, and more difficulty in finding a suitable jury."
In the case of a plea deal or other resolution by one of the defendants, the motion of severance could be filed at a later date.
Under the Idaho Criminal Rule, two people can be tried together when the defendants are accused of participating in the same act, even if charges vary, Boyce said.
Chad was arrested June 9 in Fremont County after police found the remains of Lori's children, 6-year-old JJ, and 16-year-old Tylee. Chad and Lori married in Nov. 2019 on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii, according to reports. He pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence, and two felony counts of destruction alteration or concealment of evidence.
Lori and her attorney Mark Means were not present for Thursday's ruling because there was no objection to having the cases combined. Means did not respond when reached for comment Thursday morning. Lori was arrested on Feb. 20 and is sitting in Madison County jail. She also pleaded not guilty to all charges. Her jury trial is set for April 2.
The next hearing for Chad's case is Nov. 24. Prior will be arguing the case should be dismissed and to request the trial is moved out of Fremont county due to jury bias concerns.