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Chad Daybell May Face Death Penalty If Convicted In Murder Of Wife, Stepchildren

Idaho prosecutors filed notice that, if convicted of the murders of Tammy Daybell, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow, they will pursue a capital sentence.

By Megan Carpentier

Prosecutors in Fremont County, Idaho filed paperwork Thursday announcing that they planned to seek a death sentence for Chad Daybell if he convicted on at least some of the most serious crimes with which he has been charged.

Daybell faces three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and his second wife's children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua Vallow, 7, in addition to two counts of insurance fraud related to his first wife's murder and two counts of grand theft by deception in the deaths of the children. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors have said that if he is convicted on any of the murder and/or any of the conspiracy to commit murder charges, they will pursue the death penalty.

Daybell was indicted with, and his case remains technically tied to that of, his second wife, Lori Vallow, who faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of her children, three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her children and Tammy Daybell, two counts of grand theft by deception related to the deaths of her children and one count of grand theft related to Social Security survivor benefits allocated to her children on which she continued to collect after allegedly killing them.

However, prosecutors specified in their filing that their death penalty determination only applies to Chad Daybell. Lori Vallow was committed to a mental health facility on June 8 after the courts deemed her unable to assist in her own defense or make decisions about her mental health, according to CBS affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix. Idaho law does not allow for an insanity defense, so her participation in her case is paused until such a time when treatment may render her competent, according to the East Idaho News.

Daybell and Vallow were indicted on the murder charges in the deaths of Tammy Daybell, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow in May 2021. Vallow was arrested in Hawaii in February 2020 on charges of deserting her children and violating court orders to produce them; she and Daybell had fled to the state when Idaho police began questioning them about the whereabouts of the children, who hadn't been seen since September 2019. Daybell was arrested after the bodies of the children were unearthed on his property in June 2020. At that time, Daybell and Vallow were charged with concealing the children' bodies; prosecutors dropped those charges last week, according to NBC affiliate KTVB in Boise.

Prosecutors said in a statement to East Idaho News that they consulted with the remaining family members of Tammy Daybell, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow before arriving at the decision to pursue the death penalty against Daybell if he is convicted.

"The ultimate decision to seek capital punishment rests with the State, and after completing the entire process, we determined that the nature and magnitude of these crimes warrant the possibility of the highest possible punishment," they wrote.

Those remaining family members include Vallow's oldest son, Colby Ryan, 25, and Joshua Vallow's grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, who had previously called for Daybell and Vallow to face the death penalty in May in an interview with Fox affiliate KSAZ in Phoenix.

"I don't give a frick if you don't want to be a parent, I don't care what your purpose is," Ryan told the station. "You don't go around and take everyone's life to get to where you need to go."

"He knew what he was doing," Larry Woodcock told the same reporter, noting that Daybell had allegedly increased his first wife's insurance policy a month before he is alleged to have killed her. "They're not crazy."

Tammy Daybell is survived by the couple's five adult children, Garth Daybell, Emma Daybell Murray, Seth Daybell, Leah Daybell Murphy and Mark Daybell, who have not sought out media attention in the case but expressed sympathy for the family members of the other victims in a statement last year.