Legal analyst discusses Chad Daybell’s possible defense and struggles

Apr 2, 2024, 6:00 AM

Image of Chad Daybell during a court hearing, Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho. Jury selection g...

FILE: Image of Chad Daybell during a court hearing, Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho. Jury selection got underway on April 1, 2024, in Daybell's trial. He is accused of eight felonies, including first-degree murder. (Post Register/ John Roark, POOL)

(Post Register/ John Roark, POOL)

BOISE, Idaho— Jury selection got underway this week in the trial of Chad Daybell, who is accused of eight felonies, including first-degree murder.

Daybell is suspected of murdering his first wife, Tamara “Tammy” Douglas Daybell, and two children of his second wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, who was sentenced to life in prison last year.

Daybell defense barriers

One legal analyst said that Lori Vallow Daybell’s trial, held in 2023, will be a tough hurdle for Daybell’s defense team to leap. Especially because the death penalty is on the table for Daybell, where it was not an option for Vallow Daybell.

KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas has been involved in several death penalty cases both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He told KSL NewsRadio the court will not be able to turn a blind eye to Vallow Daybell’s conviction. Her conviction is another barrier for the defense team to overcome.

“It will be hard to defend Chad, in part because Lori was convicted of the same crime,” said Skordas. “The jury has to know, or they will know, that his co-defendant, his accomplice, has been convicted. That’s a hard burden for the defense to overcome.”

As the death penalty is a part of this case, Skordas said the state and defense could reach a plea deal. He said it could even happen near the end of the trial. However, a deal for Daybell would likely be no less than a life sentence in prison.

“I think that the only way the state would consider a resolution would be a life without the possiblity of parole,” said Skordas. “Chad and his attorneys might feel like that’s the same as a death penalty, so they may be at an impasse.”

Potential defense strategies

The best defense for Daybell in this case, Skordas said, would likely be to try and turn eyes away from Vallow Daybell’s conviction last year.

“Chad is going to have to distance himself as much as possible from Lori. Make her out to be the one who was more involved in the case. Really, the one that was making the decisions,” said Skordas.

However, a large hiccup in this strategy is that Vallow Daybell’s attorneys tried the same thing in her trial. One of their main defense strategies was to put the blame on Daybell and paint him as the mastermind. Yet, a jury found her guilty of all charges.

Skordas explained that Vallow Daybell’s defense team called no witnesses and did not show much evidence in her defense. He said they did this assuming the evidence was weak. And, that there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Daybell’s defense team now has that case to use as an example of what will not work to protect him.

“Chad’s attorneys now know that the government does have that quality of evidence, that quantity of evidence. So they’ve got to put on a defense. They’ve got to put something on to help the jury understand that maybe there is a little bit of doubt in this case,” Skordas explained.

Because of the extra work the defense team must do, this trial may last much longer than Lori Vallow Daybell’s.

Becky Bruce contributed.

Our previous coverage:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Vallow Daybell Case

Jurors are speaking publicly for the first time about their decision to give Chad Daybell the death...

Simone Seikaly and Becky Bruce

In appeal, Chad Daybell asks Idaho Supreme Court to review verdict, sentence

An attorney for Chad Daybell has filed an appeal asking the state supreme court to evaluate Daybell's trial and verdict.

2 months ago

Jurors are speaking publicly for the first time about their decision to give Chad Daybell the death...

Andrew Adams,

Daybell jurors speak publicly about death penalty decision

One of the alternate jurors in the Chad Daybell case said the roughest day was when they heard impact statements from family.

2 months ago

Chad Daybell during his murder trial , he could face the death penalty...

Sam Herrera and Kennedy Camarena

Jury sentences Chad Daybell to death

The decision comes two days after the jury convicted Daybell for the murders of Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell.

2 months ago

chad daybell...

Sam Herrera

Jury deliberations for Chad Daybell death penalty decision begin

An Idaho jury convicted Chad Daybell of three murders on Thursday. He now awaits sentencing and could face the death penalty.

2 months ago

Chad Daybell appears during a court hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, Aug. 4, 2020. On the first day o...

Larry Curtis,

Jury finds Chad Daybell guilty of murders, all charges

The jury in the Chad Daybell murder trial convened late Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday afternoon, they had come to their verdict.

2 months ago

John Prior speaks with Chad Daybell during a hearing in August 2020. An FBI agent testified Monday ...

Becky Bruce

Chad Daybell trial: witness testimony ends, closing arguments begin Wednesday

If the state of Idaho wraps up its questioning of rebuttal witnesses today, closing arguments in the trial of Chad Daybell would take place next.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Legal analyst discusses Chad Daybell’s possible defense and struggles