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Chad Daybell Sentenced To Death For Murdering Wife And Girlfriend’s Two Children, Jury Decides

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A jury in Idaho unanimously decided on Saturday that Chad Daybell deserves the death penalty for the gruesome murders of his wife and his girlfriend’s two youngest children. This decision concludes a grim case that began in 2019 with a search for two missing children.

Chad Daybell, 55, dressed in a shirt and tie, sat at the defense table with his hands in his lap. He showed no emotion when he learned he would face the death penalty for the murders of Tammy Daybell, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. Daybell said no when the judge asked if he would like to make a statement. Jurors found him guilty on Thursday and decided on the death sentence after deliberating for just over a day.

Lori Vallow Daybell, the mother of the children, married Chad Daybell shortly after his wife’s death. Vallow Daybell was convicted last year for the three murders and is now awaiting trial in Arizona, charged with the murder of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was JJ’s father.

The case began in 2019 when a family member reported the children missing, leading to a multistate search. Nearly a year later, their remains were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property. Tylee’s DNA was discovered on a pickaxe and shovel in a shed on the property, and JJ’s body was wrapped in trash bags and duct tape.

During the nearly two-month trial, prosecutors argued that Chad Daybell, a self-published author of doomsday-themed fiction, promoted unusual spiritual beliefs, including apocalyptic prophecies and tales of possession by evil spirits, to justify the killings. The victims’ relatives welcomed the jury’s decision, with Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandfather, thanking the judge, law enforcement, and supporters.

John Prior, Daybell’s defense attorney, argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to link Daybell to the killings and suggested that Vallow Daybell’s older brother, Alex Cox, was the real culprit. Cox died in late 2019 and was never charged. Vallow Daybell was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison without parole. During the sentencing hearing, Prior asked the jurors to consider Daybell’s life before he met Vallow Daybell, describing her as a disruptive influence. However, Daybell declined to present any mitigating evidence, which is often used to encourage jurors to opt for a life sentence over capital punishment.

Family members of the victims provided emotional statements to the jurors. JJ Vallow’s grandmother, Kay Woodcock, tearfully described how the 7-year-old showed empathy and compassion. She also spoke of Tylee as a caring big sister. Ryan, Vallow Daybell’s oldest child, described the pain of losing his entire family, as his father had died years earlier.

To impose the death penalty, jurors had to unanimously find that Daybell met at least one “aggravating circumstance” as defined by state law for capital punishment. They also had to agree that these aggravating factors were not outweighed by any mitigating factors. The jury concluded there were aggravating factors, including an utter disregard for human life and the murders being especially heinous and cruel. Idaho law permits execution by lethal injection or firing squad, though the latter has never been used in the state.

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