Daybell prosecutor requests a veteran homicide, death penalty attorney join the case

Daybell prosecutor requests a veteran homicide, death penalty attorney join the case
Posted at 1:46 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 15:46:32-04

This article was originally published by Eric Grossarth in East Idaho News.

Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood wants to add a veteran homicide prosecutor to his team to assist in the ongoing case against Chad and Lori Daybell.

Wood made the request to District Judge Steven Boyce on Thursday to add Rachel Smith, a Missouri attorney, onto the case. According to a motion obtained by, Smith is an active member of the Missouri Bar, the professional association that regulates the legal profession in that state.

The admission of Smith to the Idaho jurisdiction is requested for “any investigating or resulting case or charges regarding the conduct of the defendants connected with crimes against Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow in Idaho.”

The Daybells have pleaded not guilty to felonies related to the alterations, destruction and concealment of the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, two of Lori’s children. Investigators found the remains buried in the backyard of Chad’s Salem home in June 2020. The case is currently in Fremont County, where Wood is acting in the role of Special Prosecutor.

So far, no one has been charged with the children’s deaths but the case is still an active investigation.

Wood explained his reasoning for the additional attorney in a letter, obtained by, that was sent to the Madison County Commissioners on Tuesday.

“Few offices our size across the county have the manpower to manage a case of this magnitude without sacrificing their day-to-day obligations,” Wood wrote. “The temporary addition of an experienced prosecutor to work on the Daybell case will enable us to meet the increased manpower demands during the duration of this high-profile matter and ensure justice for the victims and people of Madison County.”

Wood calls Smith “a veteran homicide prosecutor” with 25 years of experience in complex criminal cases. Her resume includes over 100 homicide and death penalty cases and she currently works as a special prosecutor throughout Missouri to help other prosecutors.


“There is also a long-term benefit to having Ms. Smith as part of our team for the next several months,” Wood wrote in his letter. “While we have an excellent staff of skilled prosecutors in the office and our community enjoys relatively low crime rates, the criminal litigation experience and teaching instruction Ms. Smith brings with her will help prepare our team for future complex situations if and when they arise.”

The Vera Causa Group, who serve as consultants on the case for Wood, referred Smith to Madison County while Wood was searching for additional help on the case.

If Boyce approves the motion, Wood or any other Madison County Deputy Prosecuting attorney would need to accompany Smith to proceedings unless the judge approves that she can attend alone.

Within the past week, two additional filings were made in the Daybell case. One is an order to seal part of the case and the other is a motion to protect certain information in the case from being released outside of attorneys involved.

The Daybells are now scheduled for a motion hearing on Monday at 3 p.m. to discuss the potential addition of Smith to the case.