LIVE UPDATES FROM THE LORI VALLOW DAYBELL TRIAL
3:38 p.m. Court is adjourned for today. I will be moving over to a new story to document Chad Daybell’s hearing. Here is the link. Join me tonight at 7:30 p.m. for ‘Courtroom Insider’ on my Facebook page and the EastIdahoNews.com YouTube channel.
3:36 p.m. Smith says the exhibit will be revised. Boyce says timeliness is a concern for the defense – they need enough time to review it.
3:34 p.m. So Hart can testify but he can’t use his 160-page exhibit during the testimony, Boyce rules. The state can submit a follow-up exhibit with all of the argumentative language removed and Boyce may allow that in.
3:31 p.m. Boyce says Idaho rules allow a witness to use summary charts/exhibits while testifying. However, Boyce says the exhibit will be excluded because of its size and volume. “It’s a 160-page exhibit. It’s not fair to have the defense need to be able to go back through what everybody concedes is a huge amount of information” when they received it Tuesday. Boyce also says the exhibit is a “closing argument Powerpoint” and appears Hart is “editorializing on the evidence” – which would not be appropriate for a witness.
3:29 p.m. Boyce addresses the defense arguing Hart violated the exclusionary rule. Boyce says that applies only to witness testimony so he does not believe Hart violated the order. “That’s something he can address on the stand if the defense believes he has violated the order.” The witness will not be excluded from testifying.
3:27 p.m. Smith says the document summarizes voluminous records and a vast amount of information so the jurors can understand. “We can not ask this jury to sift through 100,000 records without some sort of reference.”
3:24 p.m. Smith says nobody has discussed testimony with Hart that occurred in the courtroom. “What he did in anticipation of his testimony is different than what came into the courtroom – he can’t comment on what somebody else said or did. What his testimony will be able in this case is about the work he did on the iCloud and how it fits into the overall investigation. That was his job. He did this work.”
3:21 p.m. Boyce asks Smith to confirm that the defense received the exhibit on Tuesday right before 6 p.m. She confirms that’s when it was sent. Smith says had the state done preparation with just a prosecutor present, the defense would want those witnesses excluded too. “Discovery is ongoing. We had the officer or agent involved in the investigation sit in with witnesses to make sure they were ready and able to follow court rules.”
3:20 p.m. Archibald says he is very concerned if Hart testifies because he’s talked to “I don’t know how many witnesses.” Archibald asks that he be excluded and if the court will not exclude him, Archibald asks the summary be excluded.
3:17 p.m. Archibald lists examples from the exhibit that he says is argument – not a summary. “What we have here essentially is the FBI saying: State of Idaho prosecutors, here is your closing argument. Here is how you sell this to the jury. Here is our evidence. Here is our argument and we are going to disguise this as a summary so the jury can read it.”
3:16 p.m. Archibald says Special Agent Doug Hart is sitting in on all the witness interviews and “now they want to put him on the stand to testify. That violates our exclusionary rule. He has done exactly what we don’t want witnesses to do.” Archibald says the report contains argument and the state’s theory of the case – not data.
3:13 p.m. Archibald says Hart has prepared the witnesses, worked with them and helped them get ready for trial. Archibald learned about this when the FBI was setting up “witness prep meetings.” “They were set up by Doug Hart to go over witness prep so Doug Hart is extensively involved in this case as the state has just informed the court. When we found out he was interviewing all of the witnesses, we asked for a recording…The FBI doesn’t record it is what we were told.” Archibald said they were told nobody recorded these witness prep meetings.
3:11 p.m. Smith says it is a fairly lengthy exhibit – mainly because the font is large – but it will help Hart go quickly through the documents. Archibald has reviewed the exhibit and wants the report and witness excluded. “This report was emailed to us on May 2 at 5:49 p.m. This is a common practice of the state in this case to get us all their reports and get us a summary the day before their testimonies.”
3:10 p.m. Hart found common topics and themes that help him present his findings. It will make it easier to present his documents in summary, Smith says.
3:09 p.m. In just one of Lori’s accounts, there were 23,000 pages of documents. Smith says there are over 100,000 points of data, text or records. The state does not want to print them all and hand them to the jury so Hart created a summary document.
3:07 p.m. Hart has reviewed every report done by any member of the FBI in this case. “He was an integral part of the partnership by these equal agencies.” The state wants him to testify as to the findings to did and the exhibit is a summary of the iCloud accounts of Lori Vallow.
3:05 p.m. Rachel Smith says the exhibit is from Douglas Hart, the former FBI Special Agent who ran criminal investigations for several counties in southern Idaho. He supervised the agents who did criminal investigations in Idaho. Hart retired in 2022 and is now the Chief Deputy for Canyon County. He would be testifying as to his ongoing role in the Daybell investigation.
3:04 p.m. Boyce is on the bench. He says he has a proposed demonstrative or summary exhibit for an upcoming witness. The defense objects to the exhibit. Boyce will now hear argument and make a ruling.
3:02 p.m. We are waiting for Judge Boyce to come back into the courtroom for the evidentiary hearing. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are at their tables ready to go.
2:25 p.m. The sketches from today.
2:23 p.m. Pillar is dismissed from the stand. The state has no further witnesses today. The witness tomorrow morning will be lengthy, Smith says. Jurors will be excused for the day. We will have a 15-minute break and then an evidentiary hearing will be held outside the presence of the jury.
2:21 p.m. The defense objected to having Pillar say how much money Melani received after the divorce settlement. Boyce sustained the objection. I’ve learned Melani received $300,000.
2:20 p.m. Smith has no further questions. Thomas says all of the testimony today should be exempt because of Idaho rule 404b. He has no questions.
2:18 p.m. Pillar says there were several Venmo exchanges made between Lori, Chad, Alex and Melani. There were also text messages talking about cash exchanges.
2:17 p.m. Pillar says Brandon and Melani had a life insurance policy that each of them would need to sign in order to cancel the policy. The policy was still active at the time of the shooting and if Brandon had died, Melani would have received over $200,000. Melani also received a payout from the divorce proceedings.
2:15 p.m. Pillar received data on Tylee Ryan’s phone. It was used in Arizona and Idaho but in December, it showed up in Hawaii. It also popped up in Missouri for a brief time.
2:14 p.m. On Nov. 26, police conducted a welfare check on the children in Rexburg. That night Melanie Gibb called Pillar. On Nov. 27, police conducted an extensive search of the properties where Melani, Alex and Lori were living.
2:12 p.m. Pillar needs to refer to his notes after Smith asks him about a particular date. Defense attorneys reviewing the notes.
2:10 p.m. The investigation into the shooting continued. The rest of his vehicle was processed for evidence. Pillar and a few other detectives flew to Rexburg to process the Jeep after it had been seized. Photos, biological evidence and gunshot residue evidence was collected. The gunshot residue was collected at the back of the Jeep.
2:09 p.m. In November and December 2019, none of the law enforcement agencies were able to find any evidence of the kids. They spoke with Colby Ryan and he didn’t know where the kids were.
2:05 p.m. Pillar shares how police were told that JJ was with Melanie Gibb in Gilbert. Pillar and his detective partner went to two homes where Melanie Gibb lived. She was not at either location. Pillar tried to call Gibb. She didn’t answer, but she called him back and said she was not in Arizona. Pillar set up pole cameras outside Gibb’s house that recorded all activity.
2:04 p.m. Pillar describes how Rexburg police went to the apartment complex to try and find JJ and Tylee. “They were successful in contacting Alex, Chad and Lori but were unsuccessful in locating the children,” Pillar says.
2:02 p.m. After talking with Chandler Police about their homicide and the attempted homicide in Gilbert, the FBI was contacted. The focus then turned to finding JJ and Tylee.
2 p.m. Pillar spoke with the coroner in Fremont County to find out how death investigations work in the county – particularly Tammy Daybell’s death. Pillar wanted to find the Jeep and the suspect – Alex Cox. Pillar completed cell tower/cell phone search warrants and one of the phones Alex was using was parked near Brandon’s residence during the time of the shooting and then left the area shortly thereafter for Idaho.
1:58 p.m. After receiving the license plate reader information, Pillar reached out to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and the Rexburg Police Department. Pillar became aware of Tammy Daybell’s death and police assumed the Jeep was in Fremont County/Rexburg.
1:56 p.m. Pillar checked a license plate reader system on the Jeep. It captured the Jeep traveling southbound on I-15 in Idaho Falls on Oct. 1, then it was captured in Arizona and then again back in Idaho Falls on Oct. 3. “The license plate reader runs specifically off the license plate number itself,” Pillar says.
1:55 p.m. Pillar spoke with Chandler Police, the agency investigating Charles Vallow’s shooting. They learned a gray Jeep was at the scene of that shooting.
1:53 p.m. There were shards of glass in the road where Brandon was shot at, Pillar says. There was no evidence that Brandon had any enemies, but Pillar learned Brandon was going through a divorce with his wife Melani. Pillar also learned that Melani’s aunt, Lori Vallow, and her brother, Alex Cox, were involved in a shooting that previous July (the shooting of Charles Vallow).
1:50 p.m. The wheel that was normally attached to the back of a Jeep Wrangler was gone, according to witnesses. The back window cannot open all the way if the wheel is there, Pillar says. Ring footage shows and witnesses reported a gunshot at 9:14 a.m. A bullet hole was found in the front driver’s side door of the Tesla. Some of the projective fragments were recovered.
1:48 p.m. Pillar interviewed Brandon. Brandon said he left his home with four kids that morning. He dropped three off at home and took the last child to Melani’s house. Brandon then went to the gym with his friends. “After he returned home, he was shot at and then we conducted a canvas of the area. We spoke with neighbors, collected Ring footage and ultimately confirmed that there was a Jeep that was idling in front of Mr. Boudreaux’s residence for approximately 1.5 hours.”
1:47 p.m. Pillar recalls that on Oct. 2, 2019, he was in a meeting with other detectives when they learned of a shooting. Pillar and his unit went out to the scene. Police had put up yellow tape. There was a black Tesla registered to Brandon Boudreaux. Brandon was at the scene. Pillar was assigned to the primary investigator.
1:45 p.m. Pillar explains his professional background. In 2016, he moved to the special victims unit. In 2019, he moved to the bio-crimes unit where he was responsible for investigating violent crimes like robberies and homicide. In 2021, Pillar moved back to the patrol.
1:41 p.m. The next witness is Officer Ryan Pillar. He has been a police officer with the Gilbert Police Department in Feb. 2007. Thomas objects to having Pillar on the stand based on Idaho Rule 404b. Boyce overrules the objection.
1:40 p.m. Nesbitt said he never saw any evidence that children were with Chad and Lori. Smith has no further questions and Nesbitt is released to return to Hawaii.
1:37 p.m. Smith asks Nesbitt if there were any signs that children were staying at the condo in Hawaii. He says no. Smith asks how many bikes were in Chad and Lori’s vehicle. Nesbitt asks to see the photo again. There is one adult bike in the cargo area. There was no evidence that children were in the car and when police stopped them, there were no kids. There wasn’t even a place for a kid to sit in the car because the bike was spread out.
1:36 p.m. Thomas has no further questions. Smith will re-direct.
1:34 p.m. Thomas shows the photo of an envelope full of money. Nesbitt says there was between $5,000-$5,500 in the envelope.
1:32 p.m. Thomas shows a photo of the patriarchal blessing. It’s the top page of the blessing. Thomas asks if this was the only page in the bag or if there were several pages. Nesbitt does not recall if there were more pages.
1:31 p.m. Thomas shows a photo of some of the birth certificates and other documents. Nesbitt says all evidence collected was photographed.
1:30 p.m. Thomas shows a photo of one of the bags found in the car where the important documents were kept. The next image shows the belongings that were in the bag including the “Visions of Glory” book, two iPads, papers and folders.
1:28 p.m. Thomas shows the photo of Tylee’s credit card and asks if there was any trace evidence on or near the card. Nesbitt says he does not know. There are hairs in the photo and Thomas says, “If you were looking for a child, isn’t that something you would try and collect?” Nesbitt says yes – but he did not collect them in this case.
1:26 p.m. Thomas pulls up the photo showing the driver’s side of the SUV. He asks Nesbitt to describe what he sees in the photo. The detective says he mainly sees Lori’s purse. “You were looking for evidence of the kids. Did you collect any trace evidence in the car?” Thomas asks. Nesbitt says he did not.
1:24 p.m. Thomas asks Nesbitt what he was looking for when he served the warrant on Lori’s car. He said to look for signs of the missing kids.
1:22 p.m. Kauai Police Department Detective Colin Nesbitt is back on the stand. John Thomas will be conducting cross-examination.
1:21 p.m. Boyce is back on the bench and jurors have been brought in. Boyce says the lunch break was longer than normal because he had to work through some issues. Boyce says we will finish before 3 p.m. today. Tomorrow court will end at noon. Monday the typical schedule will resume.
1:16 p.m. Personal observation: Coke seems to be the drink of choice in the courtroom. I’ve seen Jim Archibald and John Thomas with bottles of Coke Zero (but Archibald makes regular visits to the water cooler). Lori is drinking from a can of regular Coke today. Prosecutor Lindsey Blake has a can of Coke. I’ve seen Rachel Smith fill up her water bottle with H2O. Unclear the drink preferences of Tawnya Rawlings, Rob Wood or Spencer Rammell. I’ll investigate and report back. (For the record, regular Coke is my drink of choice as well).
1:10 p.m. We are back in the courtroom. Attorneys are meeting with Judge Boyce in chambers. Lori is at her table with back the audience writing in her notebook.
12:04 p.m. The next photo shows the back of the HP laptop. Smith asks Nesbitt if he participated in the search of Lori and Chad’s condo. He says he did. He found a bag of silicone rings. There was no evidence that children were there. Smith has no further questions. We are now breaking for lunch. Be back in about an hour with cross-examination from the defense.
12:03 p.m. The next photo shows a Macbook laptop and an HP laptop that were seized in the black backpack.
12:01 p.m. Nesbitt can’t see the sticky notes very clear on the screen. He is handed a hard copy of the exhibit. On the bottom sticky note, it says “gladius.”
11:58 a.m. The next image shows a document that has Lori Vallow’s name on it with blue sticky notes all over the page. Nesbitt says he doesn’t know what any of the sticky notes mean. One of the sticky notes says “Hiplos.” The word on another sticky note says “Brandon.” The word below Brandon says “ANGO.”
11:57 a.m. We now see Lori’s lease agreement for her Rexburg apartment. We now see a written copy of a patriarchal blessing Chad gave to Alex Cox. The next photo is a backpack. The next photo is an envelope with money. This was found inside the backpack.
11:55 a.m. We now see birth certificates for Canaan Trahan, JJ’s name before it was changed. There were multiple birth certificates for JJ with both names in the car, Nesbitt says.
11:53 a.m. Now we see a photo showing JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan’s social security cards. This image also shows a receipt from the Madison School District with JJ Vallow’s name on it. We also see a birth certificate for Tylee Ryan. There is another birth certificate for JJ Vallow.
11:52 a.m. The next photo shows JJ Vallow’s birth certificate and another copy of Charles Vallow’s death certificate.
11:50 a.m. The next photo shows some of the personal papers police seized. On the left side of the photo is Charles Vallow’s death certificate. There were roughly 14-15 copies of the death certificate, Nesbitt says. The document on the left side of the photo shows the condo complex where Chad and Lori were staying.
11:48 a.m. The next photo is of a phone that police seized. The next image is another phone. The next image is a phone with the initials JJ written in red on the case. The following photo is the front of a tablet.
11:47 a.m. The next photo shows the items that were found inside the bag. There are personal documents, folders and a book called “Visions of Glory.”
11:46 a.m. The next photo shows what was in the back of the SUV. “There was a black Jansport backpack and inside of that backpack I seized two computers,” Nesbitt says.
11:44 a.m. The card and phone were bagged and tagged then sent to Rexburg Police. The next photo shows the rear passenger side of the vehicle. On the bottom of the floor, there’s a blue and white striped bag. Nesbitt says the bag had several personal documents – birth certificates, death certificates, a marriage certificate, a rental agreement, and a patriarchal blessing.
11:43 a.m. The next photo shows Tylee’s card in the crack between the seat and the door. The next image is a close up of the Visa credit card. Tylee Ryan’s name is clearly on the card. The next picture shows the back of the credit card. The next photo is Lori Vallow’s cell phone found in the side pocket of her purse. The phone was seized.
11:39 a.m. The first photo shows the front of the black SUV Chad and Lori were renting. The second image shows inside the driver’s seat with Lori’s purse on the seat. Nesbitt says Tylee’s card is no longer on the front seat. He assumes when they loaded the SUV onto the tow truck, the car slid off the seat because it was later found in the crack between the driver’s seat and the door.
11:35 a.m. Personal note: As the search warrant was being executed, I was standing off to the side wondering if I would get a chance to talk with Chad and Lori. A few minutes later, I did. You may have seen the video:
11:33 a.m. The name stood out to Nesbitt because he knew Tylee was missing. Police put Tylee’s card on the front seat and the vehicle was then searched by officers. Evidence was bagged and tagged. Photos were taken during the search warrant execution. Smith asks to admit 26 photos from the search.
11:31 a.m. Police initiated a traffic stop. Lori was driving. Officers gave her the search warrant and allowed her to take items she might need from the car like cash or medicine, Nesbitt says. Nesbitt says they looked through her purse and saw a credit card with the name of Tylee Ryan.
11:29 a.m. The paperwork was served on Jan. 25, 2020. Nesbitt was then assigned with a team to serve a search warrant on Chad and Lori’s vehicle at the condo on Jan. 26, 2020. When officers went to execute the warrant, they were found driving the vehicle 30 minutes from Princeville.
11:26 a.m. The video shows Chad and Lori lying on chairs by the pool. They are both in swimming suits. The officer hands Lori the paperwork and says, “Do you have any questions regarding that?” Chad sits up and leans over. Lori says she doesn’t have any questions and the officers leave. In the courtroom, Lori stared intently at the monitor on their table as the video was played.
11:25 a.m. Smith will now play the bodycam video for the jury.
11:24 a.m. Smith asks to admit a thumb drive with the video recording he had with Lori.
11:22 a.m. Police located Lori at a condo in Princeville. She was in the pool area with Chad. Nesbitt went with another detective and lieutenant to serve the papers to Lori. They gave her a copy of the papers and officers asked if she had any questions. The interaction was recorded and given to the Rexburg Police Department.
11:20 a.m. Nesbitt explains his professional background. He says on Jan. 25, 2020, he was assisting Rexburg Police in serving a legal document to Lori Vallow. “They all flew over to Hawaii to whatever their investigation was in the matter. They asked for assistance in helping locate and serve Lori Vallow.”
11:18 a.m. The next witness is Detective Colin Nesbitt. He works with the Kauai Police Department. Rachel Smith will be questioning him.
11:15 a.m. For the $10,000 life insurance plan, employees paid a little over $1 a month. For the $75,000 plan, it cost employees $14.70 a month. Yancey says different employees choose different plans and open enrollment is one time a year when plans can be changed. Thomas has no further questions.
11:14 a.m. Thomas asks if Chad and Tammy came in together to fill out the beneficiary form before Tammy died. Yancey says not to her knowledge. Thomas goes over the history of Tammy’s life insurance plan with the school district.
11:11 a.m. Chad returned on Oct. 30 with a beneficiary statement. Yancey completed a form, attached the death certificate and all of the information was sent to the life insurance policy. Again – the total amount paid out for the claim was $130,000 – the maximum amount that could be requested for an employee in Tammy’s position. Rawlings has no further questions. John Thomas will cross-examine.
11:09 a.m. Chad visited Yancey the Monday morning after Tammy died two days previous. Over her career, Yancey has helped employee families about 15 times with life insurance. In her experience, it was unusual for Chad to come that soon to claim the life insurance. Yancey explained a life claim could not be submitted until they had a death certificate. Chad responded, “That’s ok. I’ve already ordered eight of them.” Yancey had never heard of someone ordering eight. At the most, she has heard three. Chad returned on Oct. 25 but Yancey was out of town so Chad was told to come back on Oct. 30.
11:07 a.m. The form was signed and dated on Sept. 8, 2019. The life insurance increase went into effect on Sept. 1. Once the change went into effect, Tammy elected the maximum amount which was five times her salary and then added an additional option. Total amount was now $130,000.
11:06 a.m. Tammy was hired by the school district in 2017. She elected the minimum amount of $10,000 life insurance. She made no changes in 2018. In 2019, Tammy requested an increase and signed the form. Chad also signed it because she elected spouse coverage.
11:04 a.m. Tammy Daybell made a change to her life insurance plan in September 2019. Rawlings shows an insurance form on the big screen. “This is a change form to her voluntary life insurance,” Yancey says.
11:03 a.m. Yancey conducted benefit meetings during open enrollment each year. Benefit plans were discussed along with life insurance policies. Open enrollment started in August and ran through the middle of September.
11:01 a.m. Angela Yancey is the next witness. Rawlings will question Yancey. Yancey worked at Sugar Salem School District as the payroll and benefits administrator.
11 a.m. Ballard says, “Chad told me they wouldn’t have any income but Health and Welfare interfaced $30,000.” Thomas has no further questions. Rawlings has no re-direct. The witness is released.
10:57 a.m. Thomas now cross-examining Ballard. He asks Ballard what Chad’s income was when he went into the insurance. She recalled Chad telling her that his income without his wife was $20,000.
10:56 a.m. Ballard said Chad looked thinner and tanner in March from when she had last seen him in November. “He wrote on a sticky note Lori Ryan Daybell” when asked what his new wife’s name was. Ballard asked if there were any children that needed to be insured. Chad said no. Rawlings has no further questions.
10:53 a.m. Chad said he got married on Nov. 5. He said his new wife was incarcerated and he was really worried about something happening to her. Ballard said she didn’t qualify to enroll because it was outside of the 60-day window from the marriage date. Chad said they had moved from Hawaii. Moving into a new state is a qualifying event. Chad asked about dental coverage for himself, Lori and Mark.
10:52 a.m. Ballard talks about a phone call she had with Chad in December 2019. “He called me because he wanted to make sure to pay his premiums for January. I told him I never heard back from him on the email I sent him for the quotes. We went over the options and he picked a plans,” she says. Chad only obtained insurance for himself and his son Mark. On March 11, 2020, Chad went into Ballard’s office. “His original inquiry was to obtain health coverage for his new wife.”
10:49 a.m. We are back in the courtroom. Thomas had a concern the health insurance information this witness is testifying about was not provided to the defense. Turns out it was – but to Lori’s prior attorney. Thomas says he and Archibald had not seen it but do have it.
10:38 a.m. Melani Pawlowski will not testify today. She left Idaho yesterday. Ian has left the courthouse and is on his way home. It’s unclear if she has been released from her subpoena.
10:20 a.m. Boyce back on the bench. He is going to review the insurance agent’s file so we are having a morning break until 10:45 a.m.
10:16 a.m. Ballard says everything she gave law enforcement everything she had on Chad Daybell. Thomas interjects with an objection and asks that Ballard be excused as a witness. We are now having another sidebar.
10:15 a.m. Boyce will allow the witness to refer to her notes. She can look at her notes to refresh her memory but then must close then when she testifies.
10:12 a.m. Thomas asks for a sidebar.
10:07 a.m. Ballard asks to look at her notes. The defense and prosecution have a right to see notes before a witness looks at them so Thomas is now reviewing them.
10:05 a.m. Ballard emailed Chad his coverage plans options. Fremont County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tawnya Rawlings is questioning Ballard.
10:04 a.m. On Nov. 21, Ballard texted Chad and asked him to come in to discuss coverage. He came in and Chad asked if he was to get married, how hard it would be to add his wife to the policy. “I told him that it wasn’t a problem to add a spouse but we’d need to do it within 60 days of the date of marriage.” Chad said at that time, it was just him and his son Mark who needed coverage.
10:02 a.m. Health and Welfare asked Ballard to get Chad’s tax return to see what his income was. Ballard texted Chad and said he needed the tax form. Chad responded that he was out of state all week but would bring him the tax form the following week. At some point, Chad brought in the tax return and Health and Welfare said he did not qualify for Medicaid but a tax credit instead.
10 a.m. Chad said his income for 2020 was going to look different now that his wife was gone. Ballard told her they don’t normally apply apply people for Medicaid but given the nature of his situation and his wife being a previous client, she would apply him for Medicaid in January. She arranged insurance for him and the kids in November and December. When Ballard went to enroll Chad in Medicaid, the income numbers they had were higher than what he told her.
9:58 a.m. Ballard works as a health insurance broken in Rexburg. Chad Daybell was his client. Ballard met with Chad on Oct. 31, 2019. He came in and asked about obtaining health insurance effective Nov. 1. The health insurance he had expired the day before because his wife’s policy was over after she died. Chad asked for insurance for him and some of his adult children.
9:57 a.m. Ian leaves the stand. The next witness is Taylor Ballard.
9:56 a.m. Ian will be released from the state’s subpoena but before he leaves today, the defense will issue him a subpoena. Garrett Smith, Ian’s attorney, tells Blake that Ian will come back if served a subpoena.
9:53 a.m. Thomas asks if Ian ever remembers putting hands on Melani’s head for a blessing while Lori and Chad were on the phone. He says he doesn’t recall but if Thomas told him it happened, he would believe him. Thomas has no further questions. Blake has no re-direct questions. Ian is released from the stand. Thomas asks that Ian remain under subpoena as they may call him during their case. “Given the posture of Mr. Pawlowski, we believe it’s unlikely he come back should we need him to come back so we ask that he not be released from the subpoena.” Blake wants him dismissed from the subpoena.
9:52 a.m. Thomas asks if he recalls Chad and Lori saying they would put shields of light around Melani after Alex died. Ian says that sounds like something they would say but doesn’t specifically recall. On the nine recordings, Ian says there are a “handful” of blessings done over the phone. Ian was brought into the blessings.
9:50 a.m. “I have no clue how Chad and Lori knew there was going to a spiritual attack that day. Then Alex died,” Ian says. “There’s reality and then there’s layers of spiritual explanation that were laid over reality.” Chad and Lori gave Melani a blessing over the phone after Alex died “but I don’t believe a spiritual attack killed Alex.”
9:48 a.m. Zulema called Melani and told her that Alex had died. Melani then called Lori and Chad, according to Ian. Ian recorded the call. He says he was trying to record as many calls as he could without looking suspicious. Melani was distraught when Alex died. She was crying and felt like she had been attacked by spiritual demons. “She had been told my Chad and Lori that there was going to be a spiritual attack that day. With Alex dying, that confirmed it.”
9:47 a.m. Sidebar is over. Boyce says he is denying the request to play the recording at this time. Thomas continues questioning Ian.
9:42 a.m. Thomas says based on Ian’s purported lack of knowledge about what was recorded on Dec. 12/13, he asks Boyce to allow Ian to listen to the recording. Prosecutors request a sidebar. White noise is played in the courtroom.
9:41 a.m. Thomas asks Ian if Chad and Lori ever said anything bad about him. He says they did not.
9:39 a.m. Ian says there’s no shortage of people in Melani’s life who will take advantage of her. Thomas asks if Lori was taking advantage of Melani. Ian believes she was. Thomas asks how Lori has manipulated Melani specifically. “In the two weeks I was meeting with them, there were a lot of things that came about that Lori was exactly being truthful with Melani. She was telling her that Brandon is dark, that law enforcement officers Melani should have been cooperating with were dark beings when in reality these officers were trying to find two missing children and what happened with the shooting of Brandon Boudreaux.”
9:37 a.m. Ian gave Melani a blessing when Alex died. Thomas is asking about a blessing from Clad and Lori. “Blessings were flying around like flies,” Ian says. “Blessings of comfort, to remove dark spirits. When I called Chad to ask for Melani’s hand in marriage, he gave me a blessing to shield me from darkness.”
9:35 a.m. The snippets Ian heard included conversations with Melani, Alex, Lori and Chad. One time Melani was sick and on the call Lori said, “She folded Satan up like a taco and locked him in a box in Antarctica.” Ian said spiritual attacks were coming for the next two weeks and then things would calm down.
9:33 a.m. Ian says the purpose of making the recordings was to get anything he could to help find Tylee and JJ. Ian says there were nine recordings. “I’ve heard bits and pieces of them. I haven’t ever listened to them all the way through.” Ian says he’s never listened to them with law enforcement. The last time he listened was when he was summoned to the grand jury for Lori. He says he heard about 10 minutes total.
9:32 a.m. Ian recalls the day Alex died. Lori told Melani to “go to a place of safety” so she went to Ian’s apartment and then went to the temple. Ian recorded the entire conversation Melani had with Chad and Lori.
9:31 a.m. Ian says he recorded the conversations with his new wife for two weeks. Only he and the FBI knew, he says. On Dec. 12, 2019, Alex Cox died. It was a significant day for Melani as Alex was her uncle. Ian remembers having a phone call with Chad and Lori the day or the day after but doesn’t remember the specifics.
9:29 a.m. Thomas reiterates that Ian asked Chad and Lori Daybell for permission before he proposed to Melani. Ian says Melani’s mom passed away when she was young. Thomas asks about casting. Ian: “There were references to it during phone calls that I heard. My understanding is with casting you are trying to expel a possession or “bug” type of possession where something would crawl into your ear or brain. During casting you would pray to force the possession out of the body.”
9:27 a.m. Ian explains he met Melani in November 2019. They dated 10 days before getting married in Las Vegas.
9:27 a.m. Thomas asks Ian how he’s doing. “As well as can be, I guess,” he responds.
9:25 a.m. Jurors are in the courtroom. Thomas will cross-examine Ian.
9:19 a.m. Ian Pawlowski is being brought into the courtroom. His attorney, Garrett Smith, also enters and sits on the front row of the audience section in the courtroom. Jurors are being brought in.
9:16 a.m. Boyce says the recordings constituent hearsay and can not be admitted. He says if, on cross-examination, the witness contradicts what he said on the recordings, it could open the door to having them played.
9:14 a.m. Boyce is back on the bench about to rule on whether the secret recordings can be played.
9:02 a.m. Lori is standing with her attorneys in the circle and passionately explaining something.
9 a.m. Boyce is taking a recess to his chambers to discuss the issue with his staff attorney. He will come back and make a ruling.
8:58 a.m. Archibald responds that the statements of co-conspirators are not hearsay so Chad’s and Alex’s statements on the recording would not be hearsay. He says the state has alleged “unknown conspirators” so Melani Pawlowski could be included in that. He says because of this, the recording should be admitted.
8:56 a.m. Blake: “I want to be very clear. Religious beliefs are not an overt act as charged by the state. What the state has charged is the defendants espoused religious beliefs to control others. There’s been no overt act that they actually held or believed these things.” Blake opposes having the recordings brought in.
8:54 a.m. Blake now arguing for the state. She says it’s objectionable to refer to Ian as a “snitch.” She says he was trying to help the police locate missing children. “He was asked about making the recordings but prior he was asked about some of the religious teachings that Lori had or taught to him.” Blake argues the recordings are hearsay as there are multiple people talking on the recordings. “I do believe these would contain potentially self-serving statements – not in the sense she knew she was being recorded but in the sense the defense would use them for the truth of the matter. If they aren’t going to be used for the truth of the matter, we get into the fact of whether they are relevant.”
8:53 a.m. “The recording is the best evidence. It contains statements of the religious issues as alleged by the state. It contains the actual statements. We don’t believe a couple of statements (Mr. Pawlowski) has made about the summary are a fair and accurate summary of what happened here so we would prefer the best evidence which is the recording itself,” Archibald says.
8:52 a.m. Archibald says there are several hours worth of tape. This particular recording is about 55 minutes and he wants permission from the court to play the recording.
8:50 a.m. Archibald says he reviewed the recordings last night and they have already been admitted as discovery. They are also listed on the state’s witness and exhibit list. “The recording we would like to play this morning is from Ian Pawlowski – recording #9 on Dec. 12 or 13. It’s a conversation secretly recorded by Ian Pawlowski. His new wife Melani is talking on the phone with Chad Daybell and Lori Daybell and they are discussing several issues – the death of Alex, the religious issues, a blessing from Chad and I’ll remind the court these religious issues are charged by the state as an overt act. That this conspiracy my client is being accused of is due in part to religious issues – religious beliefs.”
8:48 a.m. Jim Archibald arguing for the defense. He says he asked for Ian to be dismissed completely and not testify at all. “Since he was allowed to testify, he has said he was a “snitch” – a secret recording at the direction of law enforcement. Mr. Pawlowski has testified so far that he dated Melani Boudreaux for a couple of weeks, got married in Vegas and then contacted law enforcement a week later and, at the direction of law enforcement, he became a snitch.”
8:46 a.m. Boyce is on the bench. “The court had a conference with counsel this morning in regards to a legal issue with the current witness – Ian Pawlowski.” The issue revolves around the recordings Ian has. The defense wants to play them and Boyce needs to decide if they are admissible. We will hear argument outside of the presence of the jury.
8:43 a.m. Attorneys are done meeting with Judge Boyce and are back at their tables. Waiting for Judge Boyce to enter the courtroom.
8:29 a.m. Attorneys are headed back into Judge Boyce’s chambers. Lori remains at the defense table with her back to the audience as she writes on a notepad. John Prior, Chad’s attorney, is in the courtroom.
8:25 a.m. Lori Daybell has entered the courtroom. She’s wearing white pants with black stripes and a black top with a black sweater. She’s chatting with her attorneys. Prosecutors are settling in at their table. The public seating area of the courtroom is packed. The bailiff is reviewing the courtroom conduct order with the audience and reminds everyone to turn their phones off.
8:15 a.m. It’s day 22 of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial. Ian Pawlowski, Lori’s nephew-in-law, remains on the stand. The prosecution finished questioning him yesterday and the defense plans to play secret recordings Ian obtained for police from Lori, Chad and Alex Cox. Melani Pawlowski, Ian’s wife, is expected to be called to the stand today. At 3:45 p.m., Chad Daybell has a status conference for his case. It will be held in this same courtroom with Chad attending via Zoom. I’ll be here for that and will let you know what happens. You can get caught up on everything that happened yesterday here.
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