Lawyers for both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow have asked a judge to dismiss the lead prosecutor in the cases against the married defendants, accusing him of inappropriate conduct.
As East Idaho News reports, Daybell’s attorney John Prior and Vallow’s attorney Mark Means have both asked for Madison County Special Prosecutor Rob Wood to be removed from the case. In June, Vallow’s children Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, 7, were found dead in Daybell’s backyard in Salem, Idaho. Both defendants have been charged with felony conspiracy to conceal evidence, and Daybell has been charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Neither has been charged with murder.
In a closed hearing on Friday, the defendant’s attorneys both alleged that Wood attempted to “coerce, unduly influence, coach, and or intimidate” Vallow’s sister, Summer Shiflet, and Vallow’s sister-in-law, Zulema Pastenes, who married Vallow’s brother Alex Cox shortly before his sudden death in December 2019, which authorities determined was the result of natural causes.
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According to KUTV, the attorneys came into a possession of audio recordings that were made at Arizona police station in October, but it is unclear if the recordings were made on the same day. It is also not yet known specifically how Wood was alleged to have coached the witnesses.
Wood has denied the allegations and requested an expedited hearing on the matter.
“At all times, the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office has acted in accordance with the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct and has strived to seek justice in this case while acting in accordance with its duty to protect the rights of the Defendants, Chad and Lori Daybell,” the prosecutor’s office said in court documents obtained by the Rexburg Standard Journal.
According to the court documents, the prosecutor’s office also said that Pastenes’ attorney recorded the police-station conversations without informing Wood.
“The State has reason to believe that Mr. Smith recorded these conversations, due to the fact that part of the recording with Ms. Pastenes appears to have taken place outside Pastenes’ presence. The State is unaware if Mrs. Shiflett and Ms. Pastenes consented to the recordings or to any disclosure to any third parties,” the prosecutor’s office reportedly stated.
It remains unknown if Smith or someone else shared the recordings with the defendants’ lawyers.
The attorneys and the special prosecutor will meet for a hearing on January 6 before Idaho District Judge Steven Boyce. The judge will decide before December 30 whether the hearing will be public.
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