Prosecutor Rob Wood filed a motion asking Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins to disallow video coverage of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow’s preliminary hearings, citing concerns about tainting the potential jury pool.
Wood acknowledged the right of a defendant to a public hearing and the right of the public to know what takes place in a criminal trial. However, he feared the video coverage would infringe upon the defendants right to a fair trial. Wood said video coverage would “make it more difficult to pick an un-biased jury in Fremont County. Picking jury in this case will be difficult and time consuming due to the already existing media coverage. If the preliminary hearings are broadcast/live streamed, voir dire will become even more difficult.”
Voir dire is the process in which a judge or lawyer questions potential jurors to see if they are suitable to sit on a jury for a particular case. Wood said those who watched the live coverage of the preliminary hearing may be too prejudiced to serve as a juror.
“Every potential juror who viewed the preliminary hearing will require extra voir dire, and those questions may elicit answers which prejudice other potential jurors. Potential jurors who viewed the preliminary hearing will more likely be struck for cause,” Wood wrote.
Eddins issued an order on July 7 to allow live media video broadcasting at these hearings. Should he agree to Wood’s request, it would reverse his previous order.
Daybell and Vallow both face two felony counts of concealment of evidence and involve the cover up of up the deaths of Vallow’s two minor children, J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Vallow also has misdemeanor charges involving resisting or obstructing an officer, soliciting another to commit a crime and contempt of court.
Daybell’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 3 and 4. Vallow’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 10 and 11.