LIVE UPDATES FROM THE LORI VALLOW DAYBELL TRIAL
3:26 p.m. Court is adjourned. Some big developments today. I’ll break it all down tonight on ‘Courtroom Insider.’ Join me at 7:30 p.m. on the EastIdahoNews.com YouTube channel and my Facebook page. You can watch previous episodes here.
3:25 p.m. The photos have all been shown to the jury. Black has nothing further. Defense attorneys will cross-examine starting tomorrow.
3:22 p.m. Lori is not looking at the monitor that shows the bruises.
3:22 p.m. Blake shows the images as Christensen describes them.
3:19 p.m. The monitors will now be arranged to the jury, attorneys and judge can see the graphic images of Tammy’s bruises. The audience will not be able to see them.
3:18 p.m. Christensen says he looked at other causes of death and did not find them to be likely in Tammy’s death. He again stresses the cause of death was asphyxia and the manner of death was homicide. Blake has no further questions for the medical examiner.
3:15 p.m. Christensen was not present the day Tammy died and says he relies on external information to help determine when a person dies. Christensen says based on what Chad said about Tammy being cold and stiff at 6 a.m., it’s likely she died a couple hours earlier.
3:13 p.m. Blake asks Christensen if a time of death can be determined off rigor mortis. He says it can be looked at and helps but the longer a person has been dead, the wider the time of death estimates would be.
3:12 p.m. Blake asks Christensen is lividity permits him to determine a cause of death. He says no. Blake asks what rigor mortis is. This is the stiffening of the joints and muscles a few hours after death.
3:09 p.m. Christensen noticed signs of lividity. This is when the blood pools at the lowest point of a person’s body following their death. Over time, the lividly becomes “fixed” and the blood will no longer be moveable. Christensen says on Tammy’s body, there was fixed lividity on her back.
3:05 p.m. More photos are shown of the bruising on Tammy’s body. Some of the photos are shown to the entire courtroom, others are not. Christensen explains the injuries.
3:04 p.m. Christensen says the injuries on Tammy’s body occurred around the time of death.
3:02 p.m. Christensen says it’s more than likely the bruises were on Tammy’s body before she died because once circulation stops, it’s much harder to cause a hemmorage.
2:58 p.m. The next picture is the front side of Tammy’s right forearm with a bruise. Other photos show more bruising on Tammy’s arms.
2:56 p.m. The first photo shows Tammy’s left upper chest with a bruise. We are not shown the image but Christensen describes it. The next picture shows a closer view of the bruise. We see this image. It is black/dark blue. The following photo will not be shown but it’s her upper arm with bruises on her right bicep. The following photo is a close-up of the bruise and we see the picture. We now see an image of Tammy’s right forearm with bruises on it.
2:51 p.m. Blake now wants to show close-up photos of the bruises found on Tammy’s body.
2:50 p.m. On the diagram of the back, there are bruises on the back of the right upper arm, one on the lower part of the arm and one on the left arm.
2:48 p.m. The exhibits are now being shown on the screen. We see a diagram of the front of Tammy’s body. Christensen marked three blue dots representing bruises on Tammy’s upper right arm, a blue dot on the lower right arm, a mark on the chest above her left breast and a blue dot on the left arm over the bicep.
2:45 p.m. Christensen has finished marking the exhibit. Blake asks the diagrams be shown to the court.
2:42 p.m. Blake gives Christensen a paper diagram to mark where he located the bruises on Tammy’s body. Boyce asks what he is using to mark the sheet. Christensen responds that it’s a blue pen.
2:41 p.m. “Whatever caused the pulmonary edema would be the cause of death,” Christensen explains. He says this played a part in him determining asphyxia was the cause of death.
2:39 p.m. The pink foam is a manifestation of pulmonary edema, Christensen says. He has conducted other autopsies where this foam has been present. Pulmonary edema is a physical manifestation of an underlying process. “We most commonly see this kind of setting in opioid intoxication and can be seen in drownings, heart failure, any number of things that can cause pulmonary edema.”
2:37 p.m. Blake asks if Tammy’s organs appeared normal. Christensen says for the most part, yes…but there was fluid in the lungs and a frothy dry foam in her airways. Blake asks to show a photo to the courtroom. It’s a closeup of Tammy’s face that shows the pink foam coming from her mouth.
2:35 p.m. Boyce is back on the bench and jurors are being brought in.
2:09 p.m. Boyce announces we are taking an afternoon break until 2:30 p.m.
2:08 p.m. “There was not a toxicological explanation for her death,” Christensen says.
2:07 p.m. The optimal substance to test is blood. Because Tammy had been embalmed, liver samples were sent to be tested. Christensen looks directly at the jury while explaining all of this.
2:06 p.m. “We did a lot more testing in this case than we normally would, and everything came back negative except the medication she was prescribed,” Christensen says, adding that it’s one of the most extensive autopsies he’s been involved in.
2:04 p.m. Christensen says testing was done for intoxicants. Blake asks if this means poisons. He says yes, it includes that. They tested for hundreds of intoxicants, illicit drugs and over-the-counter medications along with insecticides, cyanide, heavy metals, phosphate positions, nerve agents — none of those were found.
2:02 p.m. Nothing in Tammy’s medical records showed she had seizure or heart issues, Christensen says.
2 p.m. Blake asks Christensen about seizures and whether he has conducted autopsies of people with seizure issues. He says yes. There are often tongue injuries and bowel or bladder issues. Tammy had neither. Christensen says it would be uncommon for a 49-year-old woman like Tammy to start developing seizures.
1:59 p.m. There were bruises on Tammy’s arms that happened in the hours around the time of her death, Christensen says. “They are consistent with someone being restrained and would be consistent with asphyxia being cause of death as well.”
1:56 p.m. “There are a number of ways people can be asphyxiated with. Suffocation, neck compression, anything that impairs someone’s ability to breathe normally,” Christensen says. When someone stops breathing, they lose consciousness, but their heart can continue to beat for a time. Christensen says they looked at pesticides and other potential drugs. There was nothing in her system that played a role in her death.
1:54 p.m. Christensen explains there was no indication that Tammy had a history of seizures, and her brain was totally normal.
1:53 p.m. Christensen says there were no outward visible bruises or injuries that showed she died of those kinds of injuries.
1:51 p.m. Blake asks Christensen what asphyxia means. “It’s simply a process by which a person is deprived of oxygen. They’re not allowed to take in sufficient oxygen for their life to continue.”
1:50 p.m. Christensen says Tammy’s cause of death was asphyxia, and her manner of death was homicide.
1:49 p.m. Samples are collected during an autopsy to assess under a microscope. Bruises, cuts and scrapes are also examined under a microscope because they give information about how long the injury has been on a body, Christensen says.
1:48 p.m. Blake asks Christensen to describe how an autopsy is done. He explains that the entire body is checked over, fluids are taken, body parts are examined — it’s a very thorough exam.
1:47 p.m. Christensen says Tammy’s casket was dry, and the conditions were fairly good when it came time to do the autopsy.
1:45 p.m. Blake asks if a body is exhumed does it make it more difficult to do an autopsy? Christensen says most of the time, the deceased person has been embalmed, so it makes their tissues stiffer, but that also helps preserves the organs, tissues, etc.
1:44 p.m. Here are two sketches from this morning.
1:42 p.m. Christensen obtained Tammy’s medical records before she was exhumed. Throughout his career, he says he’s been involved in “a dozen or two” exhumations. They are not common.
1:41 p.m. Christensen says it’s routine for him or someone in his office to attend an exhumation when needed.
1:40 p.m. Christensen performed Tammy Daybell’s autopsy. He says his office was contacted in Nov. 2019 by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office with questions about exhuming a body and having an autopsy done. Christensen was there when Tammy was exhumed, and her body was loaded into a vehicle. He then went to his office and was there when the body arrived.
1:38 p.m. Christensen has performed around 7,200 autopsies in his career.
1:37 p.m. Utah does not have the coroner system. In Idaho, each county has a coroner to investigate cause of death. Medical examiners are used in Utah.
1:36 p.m. Blake asks Christensen the process by which autopsies are performed in Utah. Thomas objects and says Utah procedures don’t matter in this case. Blake responds that Christensen performed an autopsy in this case (Tammy Daybell). Boyce overrules the objection.
1:36 p.m. Christensen performs autopsies and has worked as a forensic pathologist in Virginia and South Carolina before moving to Utah.
1:33 p.m. Christensen explains his background in forensic pathology.
1:32 p.m. Blake calls Dr. Erik Christensen to the stand. He is the chief medical examiner for the State of Utah.
1:29 p.m. Fifteen of the 18 jurors stand to stretch their legs. Many are chatting with each other. Many in the audience are also standing. These days can be long, sitting for six to seven hours.
1:26 p.m. Wright leaves the witness stand, and Blake asks for a brief sidebar. White noise is played in the courtroom. Before standing up, Thomas turned around and gave his daughter (who is sitting in front of me) a thumbs-up and a wink.
1:24 p.m. Blake asks for clarification on cell activity and data points. She then says, “You were also asked if 17 minutes was enough time to dig that grave. In your opinion, would 17 minutes be enough time for one person to dig that grave?” Wright says it would be hard for one person to dig the grave. Blake asks if it’s possible more than one person was involved. He says yes and reminds everyone that the 17 minutes is the time the device was there – and not necessarily the time to dig the gravesite. Blake has nothing further.
1:21 p.m. Thomas has no further questions. Blake has some re-direct questions.
1:19 p.m. Thomas asks Wright about the phone associated with Alex being at Chad’s house on Sept. 23. “Based on your training, your experience, your knowledge working with the FBI — that’s not enough time to dig a hole, dig a grave, chop up roots around the grave, find stones – 17 minutes is not enough time to do all that?” Wright says he was there when JJ was found and he believes it would have taken a lot more time than 17 minutes.
1:15 p.m. Thomas asks Wright about mapping software he used for the GPS data. Wright says his colleague Nick Ballance imported all the data into a Google Earth file, and that’s what was shown on the screen today.
1:13 p.m. Wright says Alex didn’t have much of a pattern to his activities, and they varied day to day.
1:12 p.m. Thomas asks Wright how long it takes to develop enough data where you can develop a pattern on a person. “If I saw something happen every day for a week at a certain time and place, I would start to think that’s a pattern. In this case, I only had those two months to look at. When I say ‘pattern,’ it’s based only on that information.”
1:09 p.m. Thomas asks about Wright’s interaction with Ian Pawlowski. Wright sat in during an interview Ian had with Rexburg Police in December 2019.
1:08 p.m. Wright retired in August 2021 as a special agent and is now a consultant doing background investigations for the FBI.
1:07 p.m. Thomas asks Wright about his professional and educational background.
1:05 p.m. Blake has no further questions. John Thomas will conduct cross-examination.
1:03 p.m. Wright identified three days when Alex’s device went in the vicinity of the Daybell residence: Oct. 9, Oct. 15 and Oct. 18.
1:01 p.m. Wright points out on a map where data points were collected outside the LDS Church building the night Tammy Daybell died. “We then don’t know where the device is for an hour and eight minutes.”
1 p.m. Wright says police could not identify anyone else Alex knew living in the area.
1 p.m. The next slide is a map that shows where Alex’s device lingered at the Salem LDS Church. The distance between Chad’s house and the church is around 2.5 miles. Thirty minutes of data points are collected, and then there is some time with no data.
12:55 p.m. We now see a map and chart explaining Alex’s device on Oct. 18. It was at Chick-fil-A in Ammon from 7:58 to 9:32 p.m. A data point is then collected near the Salem LDS Church near Chad’s house from 10:07 – 10:45 p.m. There becomes a period of time (from 10:45 – 11:53 p.m.) without any data and the next data point is near US Highway at 11:53 p.m. The device does not go back to Alex’s apartment – rather, it goes to the Hilton Garden in Idaho Falls.
12:53 p.m. On Oct. 16, the device associated with Alex Cox left Lori’s apartment and went to the Comfort Inn in Hurricane, Utah. It stopped there for the night and the next day (Oct. 17) went to the Las Vegas airport. The next day, on Oct. 18, the device went back to Rexburg. Lori Vallow had taken a flight from Las Vegas to Hawaii on Oct. 17.
12:52 p.m. Wright is back on the witness stand. Blake will continue her questioning.
12:50 p.m. We are back from lunch. Boyce is on the bench, and jurors are being brought in.
11:51 a.m. The cell phone carrier did not keep the text messages and nothing was able to be traced from the new phone. Blake suggests we take a lunch break because she’s at a good stopping point. We will be back in about an hour.
11:49 a.m. Back to the cell phones Alex bought at Walmart. He bought one on Oct. 8 but it was not activated until Oct. 9 at 1:20 p.m. Ten messages were sent between this device and Chad Daybell between 7:13 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. While Alex’s other phone was recorded at staying at his apartment that entire night, the new phone was texting Chad.
11:47 a.m. A data point is recorded at a canal behind Chad’s house. “The road is fairly narrow and there is no shoulder. I was looking for a possible location where this person could have gone or if there was a vehicle nearby where it might have parked. There really was no place for a vehicle…but right here near this canal there’s a little pull-off that would fit one vehicle.”
11:45 a.m. A map is shown on the big screen, and Wright uses a laser pointer to show the spots where data points were recorded by Alex’s phone on the evening of Oct. 9.
11:41 a.m. On Oct. 9, Alex’s device leaves Sportman’s Warehouse at 4:12 p.m. and travels north from Ammon to the vicinity of Chad’s house. It doesn’t stop but drives by and continues onto U.S. Highway 20. The driver turns around and drives past the Daybell home again before for returning to Alex’s apartment until 5:16 p.m. The device remains at the apartment until 11:28 a.m. the next day.
11:40 a.m. Wright says a number of searches were conducted on the HomerJMaximus account on Oct. 9, 2019. One was “Frogg Togg sizing for pants.”
11:39 a.m. We now see an image of the three-hole ski mask Alex purchased (not the actual mask but the same one that was inside the store when Wright investigated). Now we see the Frogg Togg pants that were purchased – again, not the actual pants but a pair that was inside the store when Wright visited.
11:34 a.m. When Wright was investigating at the store, he learned a camo beanie listed on the receipt was no longer in stock but all of the other items were. We now see photos on the screen showing the glove Alex purchased (not the exact glove but one that was in the store when Wright visited). The glove has a mitten portion that you can pull over your fingers or you can keep off. If the mitten portion isn’t folded over, you can use your fingers.
11:31 a.m. Wright went to Sportsman’s Warehouse and pulled all the receipts during the time Alex was there. “One particular receipt caught my attention,” he says. There were around 60 receipts, and most were paid with credit or debit cards. The one that caught Wright’s attention was a cash receipt. There were five items on the receipt – including a pair of Frogg Togg rain pants. The property manager at Alex’s apartment had a pair of Frogg Togg pants in their possession. There was also a ski mask, soft drink and gloves on the receipt.
11:30 a.m. Wright says on Oct. 9, there were a series of data points associated to Alex’s phone at Sportman’s Warehouse in Ammon. Wright points out on the map where the data points were recorded inside the store.
11:28 a.m. Wright says he was looking at gun range data because of the gunman incident involving Tammy Daybell, the attempted shooting of Brandon and the fact a lot of guns and ammunition were found inside Lori’s garage.
11:27 a.m. That was the last time in October that Alex’s device visited a gun range.
11:23 a.m. Alex also visited a gun range on Oct. 12, spending time around the 50-yard range. He returned on Oct. 13 and spent time at the rifle and pistol ranges. On Oct. 15, Alex went to the shooting range twice, but between visits, he went to his apartment, Lori’s apartment, Walmart and Chad Daybell’s house.
11:22 a.m. On Oct. 7, Alex visited multiple gun ranges, according to the data points. He also went to two gun ranges on Oct. 8. Remember – Tammy Daybell was shot at in her driveway on Oct. 9.
11:19 a.m. The device was also at the same gun range on Sept. 28 for 2.5 hours.
11:18 a.m. Data points from Alex’s phone were recorded at the Unified Sportmen’s Gun Club in Rexburg on Sept. 3. Then it went to Walmart and back to the club. There was another visit to the gun range on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27.
11:16 a.m. On Sept. 30, Alex’s device is at Lori’s apartment. On Oct. 1 and 2, it stays in Alex’s apartment the entire time. On Oct. 3, Alex’s device is back in Lori’s apartment for the first time since Sept. 30.
11:15 a.m. Thomas objects to having the receipts admitted, but Boyce overrules the objection and lets them in.
11:10 a.m. Blake moves to admit the Walmart phone receipts into evidence.
11:07 a.m. After Alex and Lori abandoned their Rexburg apartments, the property managers found two cell phones in Alex’s unit. The phones were turned over to police. Wright learned the phones were the ones purchased at the Walmart stores.
11:04 a.m. On Sept. 25, Alex visited Walmart in Idaho Falls and bought a cell phone with cash at 7:10 p.m. His other cell phone shows he was in the vicinity of the Walmart at this time, Wright says. On Oct. 8, Alex visited Walmart in Rexburg from 3:01 to 3:37 p.m.
11:03 a.m. Tammy Daybell died the night of Oct. 18 into Oct. 19, Wright says. The receipt date was significant to law enforcement.
11 a.m. We now see the image of the Jeep used in Brandon Boudreaux’s Arizona shooting. It has tinted windows. Police searched the vehicle after it was seized, and two receipts were found inside. One was from a Mexican Restaurant on Oct. 1, 2019 at 1:12 p.m. The shooting of Brandon took place on Oct. 2. The other receipt is from Chick-fil-A in Ammon on Oct. 18, 2019, at 8:05 p.m.
11 a.m. Alex Cox visited Dan’s Window Tinting in Rexburg on Sept. 23 for about five minutes. He visited the store twice on Sept. 25.
10:58 a.m. Wright says Alex’s phone was at or near the Daybell residence four times in September 2019. On Sept. 6, Sept. 9, Sept. 23 and Sept. 25.
10:57 a.m. JJ’s remains were ultimately found by the pond and Tylee’s were found buried by the firepit.
10:55 a.m. Wright points out on a Google Earth image where Alex’s data points were recorded on Chad’s property.
10:54 a.m. Two data points were found near the pond on Chad’s property between 9:55 a.m. and 10:02 a.m. Other data points were recorded at the house’s front door.
10:52 a.m. Alex’s device doesn’t move from his apartment between 12:11 a.m. and 9:41 a.m. on Sept. 23. At 9:41 a.m., the device travels from the apartments to Chad Daybell’s home where it arrives at 9:55 a.m. By 10:12 a.m., Alex’s device departs the residence southbound until Rexburg and goes to Lori’s apartment at 10:22 a.m. It stays there until 11:14 a.m.
10:49 a.m. We now see a slide showing the activity from Alex’s device on Sept. 22 – the last time JJ was seen alive. “There was some traffic with the device,” Wright says. Alex went back and forth between Lori’s apartment and his apartment between 4:29 p.m. and 12:11 a.m.
10:48 a.m. A warrant was then obtained by the Rexburg Police Department to search the property. Wright says human remains were found buried near the data points – the remains of Tylee Ryan.
10:47 a.m. Coupled with the text and data points by the fire pit, “this certainly set up some red flags for us.”
10:46 a.m. We now see the raccoon text Chad sent to Tammy on Monday, Sept. 9 at 11:53 a.m. telling her he had been burning limb debris when he saw a raccoon and had to kill and bury it in the family pet cemetery.
10:44 a.m. Wright again mentions the gate allowed a vehicle to drive onto the back part of the property.
10:41 a.m. There were four major data points Wright observed during the time period Alex was at the Daybell property. A data point appears at the shed at 9:21 a.m. with a 6-meter radius margin of error. At 9:22 a.m., there is a data point at a gate into the property (you can drive onto the property at this gate). No quality data points are received until 9:39 a.m. and another data point is received at 10:57 a.m.
10:40 a.m. Numerous data points were recorded between 9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. at the Daybell residence, Wright says. Lori is taking notes as Wright speaks. Some of the jurors are too. By 11:45 a.m., the device is traveling southbound and returns to Rexburg. At 11:52 a.m., it stops at Del Taco for ten minutes.
10:38 a.m. On Monday, Sept. 9, the device departs Alex’s apartment at 9 a.m. It travels north to Chad Daybell’s house – eight miles north of the apartment – and arrives around 9:15 a.m.
10:37 a.m. Other data points were recorded on Alex’s phone at 4:37 a.m., 4:39 a.m., 4:41 a.m., 5:14 a.m., 6:47 a.m. and 8:49 a.m.
10:36 a.m. An overhead map is now shown of the apartment complex, and Wright points out the distance between Alex and Lori’s apartments – around 80 meters.
10:34 a.m. Wright says he observed all the activity on Alex’s device for the month of September. Alex was often in Lori’s apartment from around 8 – midnight and then the device would go into Alex’s apartment. It would stay there until morning or sometimes at late as noon. “This was the only time I observed it go to apartment 175 between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.”
10:33 a.m. There are several data points on Alex’s device in Lori’s apartment early on Sept. 9 – from 2:42 a.m. until 8:49 a.m.
10:31 a.m. After Alex’s device returns to Lori’s apartment, it goes to a Maverik gas station for ten minutes around 9:43 p.m. It then goes back to Lori’s apartment from and then to Alex’s apartment.
10:29 a.m. There was a stop at (or very close to) a BBQ restaurant in West Yellowstone. The vehicle arrived back at Lori’s Rexburg at 8:37 p.m. Wright says he could not identify much of anything to investigate with the Yellowstone trip – everything seemed normal and Wright is confidence Tylee returned to the apartment.
10:28 a.m. Wright says there didn’t seem to be any unusual stopping or deviations while Alex was at the park.
10:26 a.m. Wright continues to explain the movements of Alex’s device throughout the park as a map is displayed on the screen. He says the data points were “very frequent” and Wright “tried to identify potential areas of investigation. He says Alex’s vehicle did not stop for any long duration until it got to West Yellowstone after it left the park.
10:23 a.m. There were stops at Old Faithful and the nearby cafeteria around 3 p.m. Wright says photos of Tylee, Alex and JJ were taken on a boardwalk at Old Faithful at 3:49 p.m. The pictures were recovered on Lori’s iCloud account. These photos were the last known images of Tylee.
10:21 a.m. Wright says Alex’s device left a Rexburg Maverik at 11:32 a.m. on Sept. 8. “We begin to see this data trail – bread crumbs – as it goes to the West Yellowstone entrance,” Wright says. The device goes to Old Faithful, then farther into the park and eventually leaves the park at 6:40 p.m.
10:20 a.m. The data points come from GPS, WiFi and cell tower data, according to Wright. “This information was all compiled together, so each data point was looked at individually.”
10:17 a.m. The next slide shows Alex’s travel activity data points based on his cell phone as he went to and from Yellowstone on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.
10:15 a.m. Wright says it appears Alex started residing in Idaho the evening of Sept. 1 based on his cell phone data. Alex’s phone moved from St. George, Utah, to Rexburg the evening of the 1st, and the device began to spend its evenings at the Pioneer Road apartment. Beginning Sept. 5, the device began to go to another unit in the complex.
10:15 a.m. The first slide says Alex Cox – Homerjmaximus@gmail.com with his phone number.
10:13 a.m. Thomas asks Wright when he completed the PowerPoint. Wright says he worked with prosecutors last night on the presentation. “This was put together to help me with the information I had,” Wright says.
10:10 a.m. Wright requested that Ballance provide all data he retrieved from September 2019. Ballance later gave Wright everything from October too. We are about to see a PowerPoint presentation about what was obtained.
10:09 a.m. Wright says other FBI agents were brought in to assist with the case, including Agent Nick Ballance, who testified earlier in the trial. “When the records would come in from various phones that we requested from the carriers, they would go to him for analysis and he was feeding information to us to give us potential avenues of investigation.”
10:07 a.m. The recording device belonged to the Rexburg Police Department and they have copies of the conversations.
10:05 a.m. Blake asks Wright if he met with Ian Pawlowski (husband of Melani Pawlowski, Lori’s niece and Brandon Boudreaux’s ex-wife). He says yes, he spoke with Ian at the Rexburg Police Department on Dec. 5, 2019. After the conversation, Wright says his concern for the childrens’ safety increased. “He was asked to consensually record conversations he was a party to,” Wright says. Ian agreed and recorded some conversations he had with Melani P. and Lori, Alex and Chad.
10:04 a.m. “Fairly early on, we determined JJ’s sibling Tylee Ryan could not be located,” Wright says. Wright details two police departments in Arizona, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and the Rexburg Police Department were all involved in the investigation. Fremont was probing the death of Tammy Daybell and Chandler Police were looking into the death of Charles Vallow. Gilbert Police were looking into the shooting of Brandon Boudreaux.
10:03 a.m. Initially, police only knew that JJ was missing. The FBI began an investigation, and Wright was the case manager.
10:01 a.m. Wright began investigating JJ Vallow on Nov. 27, 2019. He was contacted by Rexburg Police, and under the federal kidnapping act, the FBI was able to get involved because the missing child was under 12.
10 a.m. In 2018, Wright was transferred to the Salt Lake City field office and assigned to the resident agency in Pocatello. He was one of five special agents in Pocatello at the time.
10 a.m. Wright was the Violent Crimes Against Children coordinator in Denver from 2007-2018 and he investigated crimes involving missing, abducted and trafficked kids.
9:58 a.m. Wright worked as an FBI special agent for 24 years before becoming a contract special investigator.
9:56 a.m. Rick Wright is the next witness called by the state. Wright is a contract special investigator for the FBI. Lindsey Blake is questioning him.
9:53 a.m. Boyce is back on the bench and the jurors are being brought in.
9:34 a.m. To clarify what I reported earlier: the tape with Lori’s hair was found on the black plastic bag wrapped around JJ’s body. We know that duct tape was used on JJ’s wrists, ankles and mouth. More tape was also used on the plastic wrapped around his body.
9:28 a.m. Thomas asks Boyce for a recess after being handed a PowerPoint presentation from the state. He asks for time to review it so he can know whether to object or not. Boyce says we will take a break and return at 9:50 a.m.
9:26 a.m. Wood: “Your statistics were 1 in 71 billion. What exactly does that statistic mean?” Coleman: “That means if I were to stick my hand into a hat of DNA profiles, I would expect to see this profile one in 71 billion times.” Wood has no questions, Thomas has no follow-up questions.
9:24 a.m. While Thomas brought up having evidence testing to get DNA into the FBI database, Wood asks Coleman if that was needed in this case. Coleman says it was not because she was testing a piece of hair against three known profiles – not people in the FBI database.
9:22 a.m. “It had been indicated that the hair had been found on duct tape that was in the presence of decomposition fluids,” Coleman says.
9:21 a.m. Coleman says she received the hair sample in a small envelope sealed with evidence tape. “The sample was taken off the adhesive that it was received on, and then a portion was cut and put into a test tube,” she says. “The next step is the sample went through a series of washes. Those series of washes are to wash away any foreign or touch DNA that may have been present on the air in order to isolate the DNA.” Thomas objects and says Coleman is rehashing her testimony. Boyce overrules.
9:19 a.m. Thomas is done questioning Coleman. Wood has further questions. Wood asks if the hair was tested against known profiles. Coleman says it was tested against three known profiles – Tylee, Melanie Gibb and Lori.
9:18 a.m. An allele is one of two or more versions of a DNA sequence (a single base or a segment of bases) at a given genomic location, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.
9:13 a.m. A chart is shown on the screen showing 22 different DNA alleles tested on the hair. Coleman says out of the 22, 13 had no result. “That’s a lot,” Thomas says.
9:11 a.m. Thomas asks Coleman some technical questions about thresholds required for DNA samples and what she would need to perform a test. Lori is closely paying attention during cross-examination and looks back and forth between Coleman and Thomas as questions are being asked and answered.
9:05 a.m. Thomas asks what the FBI requires of Coleman for DNA to go into the national database for testing. She responds that they require 20 characteristics.
8:59 a.m. So it’s understood: Lori’s hair was stuck on a piece of duct tape with JJ’s body.
8:55 a.m. Thomas asks Coleman about her educational background and the standards Bode must follow to be an accredited agency.
8:53 a.m. Wood has no further questions. John Thomas now questioning Coleman.
8:52 a.m. “The partial DNA profile matched the DNA profile provided from Lori Vallow Daybell,” Coleman says. “The probability of randomly selecting a random individual in relation to that profile 1 is 71 billion.” This hair belonged to Lori.
8:50 a.m. Coleman says a portion of the hair was put into a test tube. It went through a series of washes to get rid of any extraneous DNA on the hair. “We were trying to focus on the hair.” Additional chemicals were added to the sample and it then went through heat and cool samples. “We determined how much DNA was in the sample and then made lots and lots of copies.”
8:49 a.m. Boyce says Coleman needs to testify from personal memory and she can refer to her notes but can’t read them. Coleman says in May 2022, she received three DNA profiles from Lori Vallow Daybell, Tylee Ryan and Melanie Gibb. She also received several items of evidence including a hair attached to an adhesive.
8:47 a.m. Coleman describes what a DNA profile is and what a partial DNA profile is. She says Bode Technology received information from the Rexburg Police Department about the Daybell case. She asks to refer to her notes and Boyce says that’s ok as long as the defense can review them first. John Thomas looking over Coleman’s notes.
8:45 a.m. Wood asks Coleman if controls are used in DNA testing. She says two controls are used – a positive control, which is a known DNA profile. A negative control is all of the chemicals you are using in the biological procedures but they have no DNA added to it.
8:43 a.m. Wood asks Coleman to describe DNA. “The biological material that makes each person unique, and it’s found in almost every cell of your body. You get half of the DNA from your mom and half from your dad. 99% of DNA is the same among individuals but 1% is unique among individuals, and that’s the DNA we are looking at.”
8:41 a.m. Coleman has processed thousands of DNA samples as an analyst and has participated 20 times in proficiency testing. Bode has been performing DNA testing since it was established in 1995.
8:40 a.m. Coleman explains her educational background and the training she’s received for her job.
8:37 a.m. Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood says the next witness will be Keeley Coleman. She is a senior DNA analyst at Bode Technology in Virginia. Wood will be questioning her.
8:33 a.m. Judge Boyce has entered the courtroom and is on the bench. Jurors are being brought in.
8:25 a.m. The bailiff reminds everyone of the courtroom conduct order in place – no recording on cell phones, no photos, no food.
8:21 a.m. Lori Daybell has just entered the courtroom. She is wearing a maroon top with a black jacket and black dress pants. She is chatting and laughing with her attorneys. The prosecutors and defense attorneys are sitting at their tables. John Prior, Chad Daybell’s attorney, just walked into the courtroom, said a few things to John Thomas (one of Lori’s attorneys) and then left.
8 a.m. It’s Monday, and we are back at the Ada County Courthouse for week five of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial. We expect to have more witnesses called by prosecutors today. You can get caught up on what happened Friday here.
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