Idaho - Chad Daybell (copy)

Defense attorney John Prior gives his closing argument during Chad Daybell’s preliminary hearing in Fremont County on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

Editor's note: The order to move the trial to Ada County was issued by the Idaho Supreme Court. The article has been corrected to reflect this. 

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The Idaho Supreme Court officially ruled Wednesday that the jury trial in Chad Daybell’s case will be moved to Ada County.

The decision comes 10 days after District Judge Steven Boyce ruled in favor of a motion by Daybell and his attorney to change venue for the case, which has drawn intense media coverage.

The venue change will apply only to the jury trial, according to the order. All other court proceedings will take place in Fremont County. Boyce will remain as the judge on the case.

Defense Attorney John Prior argued for the motion to change venue, claiming that the case has drawn so much attention that it would be impractical to find a jury which had not heard of the case or formed an opinion.

Chad Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow, are both facing multiple felony charges including first-degree murder. The couple came under investigation after the disappearance of Vallow’s children, 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. The children were found buried on Daybell’s property in June 2020.

Daybell also is charged with first-degree murder for the death of his late wife Tammy Daybell, who died a month before Daybell married Vallow. Police originally concluded Tammy Daybell died of natural causes, but later reopened the investigation.

In his decision to move the trial, Boyce noted that media coverage of the case in eastern Idaho began before criminal charges were filed against Daybell or Vallow.

“(T)he pretrial publicity surrounding this case has been lengthy, continuous and pervasive in the Seventh Judicial District’s local media market,” Boyce wrote. “This is evidenced by the quantity of stories and nearly continuous nature of the coverage of this and co-defendant’s cases.”

Boyce indicated he wanted to move the trial to Ada County in his decision, rejecting the alternative of transporting a jury from Ada County to Fremont County to hear the case.

The prosecution did not oppose the motion to change venue, but has asked the court to sequester the jury during the trial.

A date for the trial has not been set. Vallow’s case has been placed on hold due to concerns about her mental health and whether she can contribute to her own defense.

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