PHOENIX - A judge in a trial involving Lori Vallow has ruled that he will not remove a special prosecutor from the case, after efforts by the defense to disqualify him on misconduct allegations.
Vallow's kids, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, went missing in 2019, revealing a complicated sequence of events related to the death of Lori's former husband, Charles Vallow, details surrounding the death of Daybell's former wife, Tammy, and allegations of cult membership. JJ and Tylee's remains were found on Chad Daybell's property in June 2020.
The hearing and the subsequent decision came after a recorded discussion between the prosecutor, Rob Wood, and Vallow's sister. The conversation was recorded in Oct. 2020 at the Chandler Police Department, when Vallow's sister went to speak with detectives. Chandler Police investigators are still looking into the death of Vallow's fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot and killed by her brother in July 2019.
Vallow and Daybell's lawyers believe Wood's discussion with a material witness was unprofessional, and tried to get him disqualified for misconduct.
"The court cannot find at this time that the interaction between Mr. Wood and the witness would render Mr. Wood's continued participation in this case unfair," said Magistrate Judge Steven Boyce with Idaho's 7th Judicial District. "For those reasons, the motions to disqualify Mr. Wood are denied."
In the recording, Wood was heard telling to Summer Shiflet that new charges could be on the way.
"We are going to be filing conspiracy to commit murder charges against both Chad [Daybell] and Lori [Vallow]," said Wood, in the recording.
Attorney Garrett Smith, who was representing Shiflet that day, recorded 18 minutes of the conversation before providing it to the defense. During the discussion, Shiflet reflects on the moments she spoke to Daybell, after her sister had been booked into an Idaho jail in March 2020.
"He said Lori hasn't told me very much about the kids, so there's not very much I can tell you about it," said Shiflet.
Wood also talked about seeing Daybell in Kauai, Hawaii in January 2020, after Vallow had been served with a court order to show her kids were safe.
"He looked like he was about to pee his pants, cause he's actually a wimpy person," said Wood.
In the recording, Wood also called Vallow's attorney, Mark Means, incompetent.
"He purposely and intentionally disparaged another attorney," said Daybell's attorney, John Prior. "He disparaged a defendant."
The defense argued Wood's conduct as a prosecutor showed unprofessionalism, saying this was no interview, but more of a monologue. In another revelation in the recording, Wood claims the mother of JJ and Tylee thought about cooperating, just days before the gruesome discovery.'
"She was talking about it with Chad, about talking to us before we found the bodies just a few days before, and he talked her out of it," said Wood.
After the ruling, Wood issued a statement that read:
"We appreciate the judge's ruling. We remain resolute and focused on our search for justice for JJ and Tylee."
A joint trial for Vallow and Daybell is set for July 2021.