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Jury finds Chad Daybell guilty on all counts in triple murder case

Chad Daybell convicted of triple murder
Chad Daybell convicted of murdering first wife and ex-girlfriend's 2 children 01:49

An Idaho jury has found Chad Daybell guilty on all charges in a murder case involving fringe religious beliefs, an affair and the deaths of three people.

The jury, which received the case late Wednesday afternoon, reached a verdict by 1 p.m. local time Thursday. They found Daybell guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, two children of his current wife, Lori Vallow Daybell. 

He was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in his wife's death, conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft by deception in the deaths of JJ and Tylee, and insurance fraud.

Since the prosecution requested the death penalty, the case will proceed to a sentencing phase. Judge Steven Boyce told jurors Thursday afternoon that the proposed schedule for the sentencing phase would be up to them — including possibly holding court on weekends — and witnesses in the penalty phase would begin Friday morning. The same jurors who decided on his guilt, who have been sequestered, will also hear the next phase. Daybell's sentencing for insurance fraud will occur separately, Boyce said.

The children's bodies were found buried on Daybell's property months after they were last seen. The case first rose to national prominence after JJ was reported missing by his grandparents in 2019.

Daybell, 55, pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Jurors heard from more than 75 witnesses during the course of the trial, which started in early April. Prosecutors argued that Daybell and Vallow Daybell, who were engaged in an affair, conspired in the three murders for what prosecutor Lindsey Blake described as "money, power and sex" — and justified their killings based on doomsday-focused religious beliefs that described people as "dark" or "light," said evil spirits could possess people and saw possessed people as "zombies."

The Secrets of Chad Daybell's Backyard 42:02

Defense attorney John Prior argued that it was the children's late uncle, Alex Cox, who was behind the children's murders. Two of Daybell's five adult children, testified in his defense, saying their mother had health problems. The Daybell children have maintained their father is innocent, including in a 2021 interview with "48 Hours."

The jury had returned to the courtroom after a few hours of deliberation earlier Thursday to ask about a missing jury instruction before returning to deliberations.

It took the jury just hours to convict Lori Vallow Daybell of murder in 2023. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole and has been extradited to Arizona to face charges in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot by Cox in 2019.

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