Chad Daybells pursuit for sex, money and power led to 3 murders, prosecutor claims in opening statement


(FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho.) — Prosecutors claimed that Chad Daybell’s pursuit of “sex, money and power” led to him killing his first wife and his second wife’s two children during opening statements Wednesday in his triple murder trial in Idaho.

His capital murder trial comes nearly a year after his second wife, Lori Vallow, was convicted of murdering her two youngest children — Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16 — in the so-called doomsday plot.

Prosecutors claim that Vallow and Daybell thought the two children were “dark spirits ” and “zombies” and murdered them in 2019, approximately a year after meeting at a religious conference. The children’s remains were found on an Idaho property belonging to Daybell in June 2020 following a monthslong search, police said.

Ryan’s DNA was found on two tools in Daybell’s shed, prosecutor Rob Wood said during his opening statement in Daybell’s trial on Wednesday.

Daybell was also charged with murder in the death of his former wife, Tamara Daybell, who died Oct. 19, 2019, of asphyxiation, prosecutors previously revealed during Vallow’s trial. Seventeen days later, Vallow and Daybell married in Hawaii, prosecutors said.

During his opening statement on Wednesday in the Boise courtroom, Wood described Daybell as a “seemingly ordinary man” who was the author of books about the apocalypse and possessed a “desire for sex, money and power” — echoing the prosecutor’s statements during Vallow’s trial.

“When he had a chance to what he considered his rightful destiny, he made sure that no person, no law would stand in his way,” Wood told jurors. “This desire for sex, money and power led him to pursue those ambitions, and this pursuit led to the deaths of his wife and Lori’s two children.”

Wood told jurors they can expect to hear during the trial Daybell’s “extended text messages to reveal his mindset and his motivations.”

Defense attorney John Prior will make his opening statement following a break.

Jury selection for Daybell’s trial, which began on April 1, took six days. The trial is expected to last around nine weeks, court records show.

Daybell, 55, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of his former wife and two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on her for which he was the beneficiary, prosecutors said.

He pleaded not guilty to his charges. He faces the death sentence if convicted of murder.

His case is being presided over by the same judge from Vallow’s trial, Judge Steve Boyce.

Boyce sentenced Vallow to life in prison without parole after the jury in her trial found her guilty of all charges. The judge had granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the death penalty in her case before her trial began.

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