Chad Daybell trial: Triple-murder stemmed from want of ‘sex, money and power,’ prosecutor says

Jurors heard opening statements Wednesday in the trial of Chad Daybell, a doomsday fiction author accused of murdering his first wife and two children of his then-girlfriend, Lori Vallow Daybell, in 2019.

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Prosecutor Rob Wood said the killings were aimed at getting rid of the people who stood in the way of Daybell and Vallow Daybell’s relationship, people who they referred to as “dark” or “zombies.”

“This narrative gave them the pretext to remove people from this world for their own good,” Wood said.

The pair met at a religious conference in 2018, while both of them were married to other people, and the relationship soon turned romantic.

“When (Daybell) had a chance at what he considered his rightful destiny, he made sure no person and no law would stand in his way,” Wood said. “His 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 innocent children.”

Authorities found the bodies of Vallow Daybell’s children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow, buried on property owned by Daybell one year after they were last seen in 2019. His first wife, Tammy Daybell, died in the same year the children vanished.

Seventeen days after Tammy Daybell’s death, Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell got married, officials said.

Last year, a judge sentenced Vallow Daybell to three consecutive life sentences after a jury convicted her of murdering Tylee and JJ and conspiring to murder Tammy Daybell. She has appealed her conviction to the Idaho Supreme Court, CNN reported.

Chad Daybell, 55, is facing charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft and insurance fraud in the deaths. If he is convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Wood said that after Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell met in October 2018, the pair created an “alternate reality” between them which they used to justify the killings.

“Chad’s obsession with Lori was rooted in her adoration for him,” the prosecutor said. “She was the mirror reflecting the grandeur he saw in himself. He called her an exalted goddess. He told her in writing that she had returned to earth to perform a special mission, and part of that missions was being with him.”

He said that the couple identified Vallow Daybell’s children and Chad Daybell’s wife as obstacles toward their goal of being together, ultimately leading to their deaths.

Chad Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, offered a different view of his client, acknowledging that his religious views strongly influenced his life but saying that his beliefs were fairly mainstream. He spoke about Chad Daybell’s fiction writing, which focused on topics including premonitions, good and evil and the Second Coming, the belief that Jesus Christ will return to earth.

He said Chad Daybell also wrote books for children and teenagers.

He also touched on Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, who died before the start of the trial. He was previously convicted of attacking Vallow Daybell’s third husband, and he shot and killed her fourth husband, The Associated Press reported.

Prior said Cox “would do anything for his sister.”

“Whenever there was a problem or a threat to Lori Vallow, you’ll hear testimony that Alex Cox came to the rescue,” Prior said. “Alex Cox would run without even question to do whatever was necessary to solve Lori Vallow’s problems.”

Chad Daybell’s trial is expected to last several weeks.

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