Prosecutors ask Ada County jurors be transported to eastern Idaho for Daybell trial

Idaho - Chad Daybell
Posted at 2:35 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 16:35:35-04

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

Prosecutors have made another request to have jurors in the Chad Daybell trial transported to Fremont County rather than holding the proceedings in Boise.

In the motion filed Wednesday, Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake ask to provide additional information associated with the costs and other logistics of holding the trial out of eastern Idaho.

In October, District Judge Steven Boyce approved a motion by Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, to move the trial out of eastern Idaho so Daybell could receive a fair trial. The Idaho Supreme Court approved the move to Ada County, the most populous area in Idaho.

Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, are charged with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. The charges are in relation to the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

Shortly before last month’s change-of-venue hearing, prosecutors asked Boyce to consider bringing the jury pool to Fremont County. Prior argued he did not have enough time to prepare on his side of the case with just a few days’ notice before the hearing. It was determined that additional facts on the issue could be submitted later, but Boyce decided it would still be best to have the trial in Ada County.

“The court has considered the distant geographic location and additional cost that the selection creates, and accompanying inconvenience for the court and counsel, but upon weighing all factors, the court determines this to be the best choice,” Boyce wrote in his decision. “The court further concludes … the geographical distance between the counties makes it impractical for the court to order the transport of jury from Ada County to Fremont County.”

Despite the wording from Boyce, prosecutors said in their new motion that they desire another hearing to present additional evidence and information to detail the hardship on Fremont and Madison Counties to hold the trial over 300 miles away.

“For Fremont and Madison, local law enforcement and witnesses, it would be more economical to transport the jury than to transfer the entire pending action,” prosecutors write in their motion. “The cost to Fremont and Madison to fund a full trial in another part of the State of Idaho would be extensive.”

Not only are a number of witnesses in the two counties, but Boyce and the entire court staff would also have to be housed in Ada for the entire trial which is expected to last upwards of two months. Prosecutors argue a manpower shortage would be placed upon local law enforcement agencies that investigated the case, as some of their officers would be sent to Boise to testify.

And the case wouldn’t just have local impact, prosecutors said.

“Courtroom resources in Fremont County are available for the duration of the trial, while Ada County will have to move and continue multiple cases, which will likely result in a backlog of cases for Ada County — potentially impacting the work of both Ada and Fremont — rather than just Fremont,” prosecutors wrote.

The motion does not give an exact cost between holding the trial in Ada County versus transporting the jurors back to Fremont County.

The date for the Daybell trial is not yet scheduled. Lori’s case remains on hold after Boyce committed her in June to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. A mental health professional determined Lori was not competent to stand trial and assist in her defense.