Jury selection underway on first day of Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Apr 3, 2023, 4:31 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 3:01 pm

a sketch of lori vallow daybell and her lawyers during her trial is pictured...

A courtroom sketch showing Lori Vallow Daybell sitting in between her attorneys during jury selection is pictured.

BOISE, Idaho — The first day of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial began with jury selection on Monday in Boise. The judge, prosecution and defense team questioned groups of potential jurors throughout the day and were left with 17 jurors who had been approved.

Vallow Daybell is charged with seven felonies. She and her husband Chad Daybell are accused of murdering her two children, J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Vallow Daybell is also accused of conspiring to murder Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell. She’s pleaded not guilty.

Eighteen jurors need to be selected for the trial; 12 trial jurors and six alternates. The jurors that appeared on Monday had already filled out a questionnaire and were advised to not look into the case over the weekend. The court wants to have 42 potential jurors approved before moving forward.

All but one person arrived for their jury duty.

Jury selection began with Judge Steven Boyce going over charges and giving jurors instructions to not talk about the case, send information on the case, look it up, or form an opinion on it.

Boyce also acknowledged that several jurors had pretrial knowledge about the case and again instructed the jury to not discuss it amongst themselves. 

Finding the right jurors for the Vallow Daybell trial

Three groups of jurors were questioned on Monday. All three groups went through the same procedures and heard many of the same talking points from the prosecutorial team.

Boyce began the questioning process by advising the jury that the trial may take up to eight weeks to finish. Two jurors in the first group, five in the second, and three in the third were excused due to issues with time, or because of hardships that an eight-week trial would impose.

Boyce then asked jurors if they had any pretrial knowledge about the case. Four jurors in the first group and one in the second did not have any preexisting knowledge of the case. Everyone else in the first two groups did.

Next, the prosecution questioned the pool.

“Land that plane”

Prosecutor Rob Wood told jurors “There’s a defendant here today who has a right to a fair and impartial trial and the people of the state of Idaho have a right to a fair and impartial trial.”

The prosecution used metaphors during questioning, likening the jury to a pilot, whose responsibility it is to land a plane. The team also likened the law to baking cookies and said following the law is like baking –you have to have the exact ingredients.

No jurors from the first two groups were excused during the prosecution’s questioning. One juror from the third group was excused during the prosecution’s questioning.

Once the prosecution finished, Vallow Daybell’s defense team began its questioning of the jury.

The defense team’s turn

Two people were excused from the first group of jurors during the prosecution’s questioning. One of the jurors was excused after agreeing with the statement, “If you don’t take the stand, you’re probably guilty.”

Jurors who had pretrial knowledge of the case were taken for individual questioning by the defense. During this time, the courtroom paused its live feed into the courtroom — used to give the media access — for privacy.

Two jurors from the first group were excused after their individual questioning. The first jury pool was then approved by both the prosecution and the defense.

In the second group, one juror was excused after their individual questioning. The defense team had several challenges and objections to certain jurors, but Judge  Boyce ruled that those jurors could stay on.

The second group of jurors, nine in total, was approved and then dismissed for the day.

In the third group, only one juror was left after individual questioning. The defense challenged the juror and Boyce ruled in their favor. No jurors from the third group were approved.

Vallow Daybell trial selection continues

There’s been no word on when the first two groups will be required to appear in court again. The court aims to have 42 jurors approved. At the time of publication, the court only had 17.

Judge Boyce did not give a ruling on Monday on whether J.J. Vallow’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, will be able to sit in on the trial.

Day two of the trial will likely see three groups vetted again. Tuesday’s jury selection starts at 9 a.m.

Aimee Cobabe and Alejandro Lucero contributed to this story.

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Jury selection underway on first day of Lori Vallow Daybell trial