A jury has found Chad Daybell guilty in the murders of his first wife and his second wife’s two children in what prosecutors in Idaho said was a plot to pursue “money, power and sex.”

The verdict in the capital murder trial followed seven weeks of testimony and comes more than a year after Daybell’s second wife, Lori Vallow, was also convicted of murdering her two youngest children — Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16 — in a so-called doomsday plot.

The jury began deliberations Wednesday evening, during which they were sequestered, before reaching a verdict midday Thursday.

Prosecutors claimed that Vallow and Daybell thought the two children were “dark spirits” and “zombies” and conspired with Vallow’s now-deceased brother, Alex Cox, to murder them in 2019, approximately a year after the couple met at a religious conference.

Daybell, 55, was also charged with murder and conspiracy in the death of his former wife, Tamara “Tammy” Daybell, 49, who died Oct. 19, 2019. Her cause of death was asphyxiation, prosecutors revealed during Vallow’s trial.

PHOTO: Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing, Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.

Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing, Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.

John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool, FILE

Prosecutors said Daybell, the author of books about the apocalypse, promoted spiritual beliefs to justify the three murders and had claimed that all three were possessed and “marked” them for death.

“Three dead bodies … and for what? Money, power and sex. That’s what the defendant cared about,” prosecutor Lindsey Blake told jurors during closing arguments on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Daybell’s communications showed he never intended to divorce Tamara Daybell, whom he had been married to for nearly 30 years and had five children with before carrying on an affair with Vallow.

Vallow and Daybell married in Hawaii 17 days after Tamara Daybell was found dead in her bed, prosecutors said. At the time, Vallow’s previous husband, Charles Vallow, was also dead — fatally shot by Cox — and her two youngest children had not yet been reported missing, they said. Ryan was a child from Vallow’s third marriage while J.J. was Charles Vallow’s nephew, whom they adopted.

“Chad said the plan was for he and Lori to be together unencumbered by earthly relatives, earthly obstacles,” Blake said.

PHOTO: Lori Vallow Daybell stands and listens as the jury's verdict is read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, May 12, 2023.

Lori Vallow Daybell stands and listens as the jury’s verdict is read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, May 12, 2023.

Kyle Green/AP

The children’s remains were found on an Idaho property belonging to Daybell in June 2020 following a monthslong search after extended family members reported them missing, prosecutors said. Ryan’s DNA was found on a pickaxe and shovel that were in Daybell’s garage, Blake said.

During closing statements, defense attorney John Prior told jurors that prosecutors showed only a “handful” of text messages that talked about “light and dark” and “death percentages” out of thousands between Daybell and Vallow to try and insinuate that there was a murder plot.

“At no time did the prosecuting attorney show you a text message that said, ‘Let’s kill the kids, let’s kill Tammy,'” he said.

Prior further argued that prosecutors failed to provide proof that there was any agreement to commit a crime or any evidence tying Daybell to the deaths.

During the trial, Prior’s witnesses included a forensic pathologist who believed Tamara Daybell’s cause of death should have been classified as “undetermined” and one of Daybell’s children, who told jurors that his mother had been sick before she died.

PHOTO: A picture of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow is seen on a fence opposite the property where their bodies were found in 2020, on April 4, 2023 in Rexburg, Idaho.

A picture of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow is seen on a fence opposite the property where their bodies were found in 2020, on April 4, 2023 in Rexburg, Idaho.

Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Daybell was also charged with two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on Tamara Daybell for which he was the beneficiary, prosecutors said.

Daybell did not take the stand during the trial. He pleaded not guilty to his charges. Prosecutors have said they plan to pursue the death penalty if he was convicted of murder.

His case is being presided over by the same judge from Vallow’s trial, Judge Steve Boyce.

Boyce sentenced Vallow to life in prison without parole after the jury in her trial found her guilty of all charges. The judge had granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the death penalty in her case before her trial began.

Vallow has also been accused of conspiring to kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was fatally shot by Cox in 2019 during a confrontation at her Arizona home. Police were investigating claims that Cox shot his brother-in-law in self-defense when Cox died from natural causes months after the fatal shooting.

She was indicted on one count of first-degree murder by a Maricopa County grand jury in 2021 in connection with the fatal shooting.

She was also charged with first-degree premeditated murder for allegedly plotting to kill the ex-husband of her niece.

She pleaded not guilty to both charges last year. Her trial is scheduled to begin in August.



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