man has pled not guilty to murdering his first wife and two stepchildren from his second marriage, exactly one year after their bodies were discovered in his backyard.
, 52, pled not guilty in a Freemont County Court on Wednesday to all charges stemming from the 2019 deaths of JJ Vallow, 7, Tylee Ryan, 17, and his ex-wife, Tammy Daybell.
His pleas came one day after his wife, Lori Vallow-Daybell, the mother of the two deceased children, was committed to a psychiatric facility by a judge
for 90 days in the hopes of making her competent to stand trial
for the murder of her children, for which she is also charged.
Daybell showed no visible emotion as he entered his pleas, and if convicted of the more serious charges, he faces life in prison
or the death penalty
On June 9, 2020, he was apprehended shortly after the bodies of the children were discovered on his Freemont County property, capping off an eight-month search involving authorities from multiple states
Kay Woodcock, the children's grandmother, was in the courtroom during Daybell's hearing and expressed dissatisfaction with Daybell's pleas.
“He’s a liar,” she told East Idaho News
. “How do you have two kids in your backyard and know nothing about it?”
Daybell married the children's mother just weeks after his first wife's mysterious death in October 2019, and the couple relocated to Hawaii
, where Vallow-Daybell was eventually arrested on charges related to her children's disappearance.
Prosecutors accused the couple of justifying the murders based on their religious beliefs, claiming that Tammy Daybell had been possessed by a spirit. A friend of Vallow-Daybell claimed that she believed her children had turned into zombies and that the only way to rid a person of a dark spirit was to kill them.
Daybell is a Christian doomsday
author who has published several books on the end of the world and the Christian belief in Christ's return to Earth.