Chad Daybell, the husband of so-called “cult mom” Lori Vallow has requested to face his own trial for the murder of her two children, rather than in conjunction with his wife.
In a court filing to Idaho Judge Steven Boyce this week, Mr Daybell’s defence asked that his trial be held independently from Ms Vallow’s and that it be moved to October 2023, East Idaho News reported. At present, the couple are set to face a joint death penalty trial in Fremont County beginning in January.
Mr Daybell, 54, and Ms Vallow, 49, are charged with conspiring to kill her two youngest children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, along with his first wife Tammy.
Mr Daybell’s request to sever the trials - which curiously refers to his wife as Ms Vallow rather than Ms Daybell, as in previous defence filings - comes on the heels of a new Netflix documentary Sins of Our Mother, which delves thoroughly into the bizarre string of murders around the couple and their extreme religious beliefs around the end of the world.
In the three-part series, people close to the case recount how Ms Vallow met her doomsday preacher husband and how they allegedly planned to kill the children after they became convinced the minors were zombies whose “dark spirits” had to be released through death.
Mr Daybell’s attorney argued that holding both trials simultaneously would be detrimental to his client due to potential gender bias from the jury and that more time is needed to prepare the defence. Last week, Judge Boyce announced that news organisations will no longer be able to shoot photos or videos inside the courtroom.
Mr Daybell’s attorney also said in the filing that he had yet to receive a “significant amount” of evidence from prosecutors, which in turn will delay his review of it.
Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell’s trials were joined in October 2020, and a previous filing to separate them was denied by Judge Boyce a year later.
“There is no possible way to complete the investigation and be prepared for a death penalty trial in January 2023,” the filing read. “Death penalty cases are unique in the criminal legal system and require counsel to undertake an extensive, time-consuming investigation.”
JJ and Tylee were last seen in September 2019, weeks after the family moved to Rexburg, Idaho, following Ms Vallow’s husband Charles Vallow’s fatal shooting by her brother during a supposed domestic argument — for which she also faces conspiracy to murder charges in Arizona.
Ms Vallow is believed to have moved to be closer to Mr Daybell, an alleged cult leader she married in November of that year.
While the children were never reported missing by their mother, police began investigating their whereabouts in late November 2019 after a family member raised concerns.
JJ and Tylee were ultimately found buried on Mr Daybell’s property in Salem, Idaho, in June 2020. They are believed to have been killed in the days after they went missing.
The couple is scheduled to face trial together in January 2023 following a series of delays after Ms Vallow was deemed mentally unfit and committed to a treatment facility in June 2021.
Judge Boyce ruled she is fit to face trial earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Ms Vallow and Ms Daybell are facing separate charges related to the deaths of their former spouses.
Ms Vallow is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the July 2019 death of her fourth husband Charles Vallow, who was shot dead by her brother Alex Cox during what she described as a custody dispute at her home in Arizona.
Cox claimed he acted in self-defence before his death in December 2019.
Mr Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell, was found dead at their Idaho home in October 2019, weeks before he married Ms Vallow.
Tammy Daybell was initially ruled to have died of natural causes after her husband declined an autopsy.
The case was then reopened amid the search for JJ and Tylee, paving the way for conspiracy charges Mr Daybell and Ms Vallow now face in her death.