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Attorneys For Lori Vallow And Chad Daybell Spar With Prosecutors Over Recorded Conversations With Potential Witnesses

Attorneys for Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell have requested special prosecutor Rob Wood be removed from the case, saying he unduly influenced potential witnesses in the case — an allegation he denies.

By Jill Sederstrom
Lori Vallow Faces New Charges After Children's Bodies Found

Attorneys for Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell have filed motions to dismiss the special prosecutor in the case, arguing that a secret recording shows his “attempt to coerce, unduly influence, coach and or intimidate” potential witnesses.

“The prosecutor misconduct violated the due process rights to the Defendant’s Idaho and U.S. Constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial,” stated a motion filed by Vallow’s attorney Mark Means and obtained by Oxygen.com. “The prosecutor engaged in coercive, unduly influence, coaching, and intimidating tactics to manipulate a material witness(es) in this case.”

A similar motion was filed by Daybell’s attorney John Prior.

The allegations center around October conversations special prosecutor Rob Wood had with Vallow’s sister, Summer Shiflet, and her former sister-in-law, Zulema Pastenes, which were recorded.

Pastenes was briefly married to Vallow’s brother Alex Cox, shortly before his death in December of 2019.

Defense attorneys for both Vallow and Daybell have argued that Wood should be disqualified and removed from the criminal case as a result of the conversations.

However, Wood has denied the allegations against him.

“At no time did I coerce, unduly influence, coach and or intimidate any witness or instruct a witness how to respond to any questions by law enforcement,” Wood said in an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.

Wood, who was unaware the recordings were being made, said he met with both women on separate days at the beginning of October during at the Chandler Police Department in Arizona.

The meetings were arranged after Pastenes reached out to Wood and law enforcement officials through her attorney, Garrett Smith, according to the affidavit.

Wood said that Smith, who appears to have represented both women, was present for the entirety of both conversations and never objected at the time to anything that he said, court documents state.

Wood also described the meetings as “introductory in nature and not investigative” and said he was not present during later conversations with law enforcement officials.

Wood argued in the affidavit that the recordings did not include the entirety of the conversations and appear to be “possibly edited.”

Prosecutors referred to the allegations against Wood as “meritless,” according to a response filed in court and obtained by Oxygen.com.

Daybell is facing two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence and felony conspiracy to conceal evidence charges after the bodies of Vallow’s missing children Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, 7, were discovered on his Idaho property in June.

Vallow has also been charged with felony conspiracy to conceal evidence in the case.

Shiflet initially claimed in media reports that Vallow’s missing children wouldn’t be found as victims of harm—but later acknowledged she had been wrong in a post on Facebook not long after the children’s bodies were discovered on Daybell’s property.

“I was wrong,” she wrote in the post. “I am an extremely imperfect person that loves my family with all my heart, and I wanted to believe the best in them, and I held out hope for the best possible outcome.”

A hearing on the motions to dismiss Wood from the case will be held Jan. 6, according to orders in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.

Daybell’s attorney had requested the hearing be held in person, but a court denied that request and ordered the hearing to be carried out remotely through Zoom.

An Idaho judge ruled in October that Vallow and Daybell's cases will be combined at trial