New information released on closed Daybell court hearing

Posted at 11:05 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 13:05:20-05

This article was written by Eric Grossarth of East Idaho News.

A court order summarized what happened at a closed hearing Friday in the Chad and Lori Daybell cases.

Allegations of misconduct were made last week by Lori’s attorney, Marks Means, and Chad’s attorney, John Prior, against Special Prosecutor Rob Wood. The attorneys went before District Judge Steven Boyce on Friday after several motions were filed by the parties. Boyce closed the hearing to the public and media citing “prejudicial” or harmful information would be discussed.

In joint motions to disqualify Wood from the case, Means and Prior accused the prosecutor of allegedly trying to “coerce, unduly influence, coach, and or intimidate” Lori’s sister, Summer Shiflet, during an October meeting in Arizona. Around the same time, he is also alleged to have been inappropriately discussed the case with Lori’s sister-in-law, Zulema Pastenes. The accusations are related to October audio recordings of Wood speaking to both women that were later given to the defense attorneys.

Wood denied all of the allegations against him and requested an expedited hearing to clear up the situation. Wood affirmed Shiflet and Pastenes’ legal counsel was with them the entire time and had no objections to the questioning.

Wood responded with a motion asking Boyce for a temporary judicial protection order that would prevent the parties, witnesses, potential witnesses, victims, victim/witness coordinators, law enforcement officers and court personnel from discussing the motions to disqualify or the related audio on social media or with the news media. The requested protection order also asked that correspondence or communication between parties not be given to news media or posted on social media.

In the order filed Monday, Boyce denied Wood’s request, meaning that those involved in the case could speak with the media while keeping certain documents sealed in the case. Among the sealed documents is an affidavit by Garrett Smith, the attorney who was present in the audio recordings of Shiflet and Pastenes.

Means has also asked Boyce to stop Wood from actively working on the cases until a decision was made on the prosecutor’s status. Boyce denied the request.

While a hearing to move the case out of Fremont County is scheduled for Jan. 6, a hearing to decide if Wood should be disqualified is now scheduled for the same day.

Wood and Prior want the hearing closed to the public, according to Boyce’s order. Means wants it open to the public. Boyce has until Dec. 30 to decide if the public can attend or view the hearing regarding the request to remove Wood from the cases.

The Daybells are charged with felonies related to the concealment, alteration and destruction of the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, Lori’s two children. In June, investigators found the bodies buried on Chad’s Salem property.