Idaho prosecutors have asked a judge to combine the cases against Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell so they can be tried together in a move that an expert says would help lead to a conviction.
Madison County Special Prosecutor Rob Wood and the state of Idaho made the request in a motion on Tuesday, arguing that the cases should be joined because both defendants are facing charges for conspiring to hide the remains of Lori’s children Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, who disappeared last September and were found buried on her husband Chad’s property in June.
Both defendants are set to face trial in January 2021. Chad’s attorney filed a motion last week for all of the charges against him to be dismissed because there is no evidence to support them.
DailyMail.com spoke to a former federal prosecutor, Neama Rahmani, about how the cases would be affected if a judge grants Wood’s motion to join them.
Idaho prosecutors have asked a judge to combine the cases against Chad Daybell (left) and Lori Vallow (right) so they can be tried together in a move that could help lead to a conviction. In a motion filed Tuesday, they argued that the cases should be joined because both Chad and Lori are facing charges for conspiring to hide the remains of her children
Lori is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence, as well as three misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing officers, solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court. She is set to appear at an arraignment next week.
Chad pleaded not guilty last week to the same two felony counts, and previously pleaded not guilty to two other felony counts for destruction or concealment of evidence.
Rahmani, who is the president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and is not affiliated with the Vallow case, said it was not surprising that Wood and the state are asking to combine the cases.
‘Prosecutors generally prefer to try co-defendants together because it preserves limited government resources and allows them to “dirty up” multiple criminal defendants in front of a jury,’ he said.
‘Defense attorneys, on the other hand, usually push for severance or separate trials to avoid guilt by association and to point to the “empty chair” at trial.’
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani (pictured) says the prosecution has a better chance of convicting Lori and Chad if their cases are joined
Rahmani said that joining the two cases could make it more likely for Lori and Chad to be convicted, adding: ‘But the prosecution case is very strong even if Lori and Chad are tried separately.’
The veteran prosecutor said he fully expects attorneys for both defendants to oppose the joinder motion.
If they do request separate trials, Rahmani said the judge is likely to comply.
‘Judges tend to sever cases when there is any risk that joinder will prejudice the rights of a criminal defendant,’ he said, adding that doing so could also create an appellate issue.
However, Rahmani said that the prosecution is on strong footing regardless of whether the joinder motion is granted.
‘This is a very strong case for the prosecution because Lori and Chad have been caught in lie after lie and their children were buried in their backyard,’ he said.
‘Even though the state has yet to file murder charges, it is probably only a matter of time, and regardless of whether they are tried together or separately, Lori and Chad will likely turn on one another when the alternative is life in prison or a potential death sentence.’
Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, disappeared in September 2019 but were never reported missing by their mother or Chad, whom Lori married in early November
Investigators are seen recovering the remains of Tylee and JJ from the backyard of Chad’s home in Salem, Idaho, on June 9
Chad is now seeking to avoid trial altogether after his attorney, John Prior, filed a motion asking District Judge Steven Boyce to dismiss his client’s entire case last week.
In his motion, Prior stated that there was not sufficient evidence presented at the Chad’s preliminary hearing in early August, where Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins determined that Wood presented enough evidence to have the case advance to district court.
‘The charges are not supported by the evidence and duplicative as allegations against the defendant,’ Prior wrote.
‘Further, the prosecution has yet to present evidence to support when the alleged acts is [sic] supposedly to have taken place and if the defendant acted in any manner to support the allegations.’
The attorney said that the claims against Chad are ‘vague and broad’ and argued that the defendant’s constitutional rights are being violated because he can not be ‘fairly notified and apprised of when, how and what he is accused of doing’.
Judge Boyce has not yet responded to Prior’s motion.
Chad is now seeking to avoid trial altogether after his attorney, John Prior (pictured together in court on August 21), filed a motion asking to dismiss his client’s entire case last week
The latest developments in the case came just days before the anniversary of Lori’s daughter.
Tylee vanished on September 8, 2019, just days before her 17th birthday. Investigators said her body was burned and dismembered before being buried sometime the following day.
JJ was last seen two weeks later on September 23. His body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic and buried the same day, investigators said.
Authorities believe Lori’s now-deceased brother Alex Cox brought the children’s bodies to Chad’s home to bury them.
Neither Chad nor Lori have been accused of harming Tylee and JJ. Authorities have yet to say how the children died, or whether homicide charges will be filed in the future.
The search for JJ and Tylee began back in November 2019 when police officers performed a welfare check at Lori’s home in Rexburg and found that neither of the children had been heard from since two months earlier.
The story captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three suspicious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as relatives’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.
Lori and Chad went on the run the day after police began searching for the children and reopened an investigation into the death of Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell, who died on October 19, 2019.
Police tracked the couple down in Hawaii in January and Lori was later arrested on charges of child abandonment and desertion.
The search came to a devastating end in June as JJ and Tylee’s remains were discovered in Chad’s backyard in Salem, Idaho.
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks she tells people who ask where Tylee is that she’s studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emailed the school the following day and claims she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melanie Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ, or his older sister Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in a bathroom in Arizona and dies. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while officers serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the children.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
May 25: Idaho police issue a statement expressing hope that the kids will be found safe on what would have been JJ’s eighth birthday.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.