Typo Fails to Derail Case Against Chad Daybell

Indictment lists the wrong date of death for 7-year-old Joshua Vallow
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2024 6:55 PM CDT
Typo Fails to Derail Case Against Chad Daybell
Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing, Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.   (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, File)

A typo in the triple murder indictment of an Idaho man accused of killing his wife and his girlfriend's two children doesn't mean that he should be acquitted of one of the deaths, a judge said Thursday. Prosecutors had been detailing the case against Chad Daybell to jurors over the past three weeks, the AP reports. Shortly after they closed their case Thursday, 7th District Judge Steven Boyce alerted the attorneys to a major error: The date of 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow's death was wrong in the indictment.

That sparked a flurry of arguments over whether the problem could be fixed or if Daybell should simply be acquitted of that charge. Special assistant attorney general Ingrid Batey told the judge the mistake was "clearly a clerical error." Boyce ultimately agreed with prosecutors, describing it as an "inadvertent mistake" and saying jurors could be given special instructions allowing them to still consider the full case. The original indictment filed in 2021 had the correct date, saying that JJ's death occurred on or between Sept. 22 and 23, 2019. But it was amended in February to say the boy was killed "on or between the 8th and 9th day of September, 2019."

Those are actually the dates that prosecutors believe his big sister, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, was killed. Defense attorney John Prior argued that any changes now would substantially harm Chad Daybell's due process rights, but Boyce noted that the dates had been correct for three years of the case, and that the error was only introduced a few months before the trial began. That gave the lawyers ample time to prepare, the judge said. Prior will begin presenting Daybell's defense case on Monday, per the AP. (More Chad Daybell stories.)

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