Lori Vallow-Daybell’s attorney, Mark L. Means. and special prosecutor Rob Wood met behind closed doors Friday at the Fremont County Courthouse to discuss removing Wood from the Vallow-Daybell case.
In court documents, Means claims that Wood had committed “prosecutorial misconduct” involving an interview he had with the defendant’s sister, Summer Shiflet, and her former sister-in-law, Zulema Pastenes who was married to the late Alex Cox. Alex was Vallow-Daybell’s brother and died shortly after marrying Pastenes in December 2019.
The defense filed the motion on Dec. 15, 2020.
“Said motion is based upon a recently received audio recording between Mr. Robert Wood and the material witness, Summer Shiflet (biological sister of said Defendant) that occurred in October 2020,” reads the report. “The recording clearly illustrates Mr. Wood’s attempt to coerce, unduly influence, coach, and or intimidate said material witness to this case. In addition, an audio recording of Mr. Wood interviewing another material witness, Zulema Pastenes, also at or around the same time (October 2020) discussing matters that support the state’s position of the case, etc.”
The prosecutor’s office filed a motion on the same day saying that no prosecutorial misconduct had occurred.
“At all times, the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office has acted in accordance with the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct and has strived to seek justice in this case while acting in accordance with its duty to protect the rights of the Defendants, Chad and Lori Daybell,” said the prosecutor’s office in court documents.
The office also stated that Wood never coerced, unduly influenced, coached or intimidated or tried to instruct any of the witnesses on how to respond.
“The allegations are meritless,” it said.
It also noted that Shiflet and Pastenes’ attorney, Garrett Smith, accompanied the women at the Chandler Arizona Police Department, and that Wood had never met with the two without their lawyer.
“Nearly two and one-half months have passed from that October conference until now wherein no objection was raised. Further, Mr. Smith has never raised any concerns or objections on what occurred on those days,” said the Prosecutor’s Office.
Court documents revealed that Smith had recorded Wood without Wood’s knowledge.
“The State has reason to believe that Mr. Smith recorded these conversations, due to the fact that part of the recording with Ms. Pastenes appears to have taken place outside Pastenes’ presence. The State is unaware if Mrs. Shiflett and Ms. Pastenes consented to the recordings or to any disclosure to any third parties,” it said.
The prosecutor’s office had no comment on Friday’s hearing, but J.J.’s grandmother Kay Woodcock said she didn’t believe Wood had done anything wrong. There was no reason why he would coerce any witnesses, Woodcock said.
“I believe Rob is doing everything as he should. Period. Rob is invested in this. He knows it better than anyone. God help us if we have to start over,” she said.
Woodcock says that Means is creating an issue where there isn’t one.
“Means just throws something out there, and it’s not true. He said something not true about us,” she said. “What he did with us was uncalled for, desperate and childish. He said we were wearing audio recording equipment for Chad’s prelim. We didn’t do that,” she said.
Also on Dec. 15, the court issued an “Order to Seal” and stated that records involving the case be sealed “if the court finds that doing so may be necessary to prevent harm to any person or persons.” The court also stated it had found the privacy of those involved in the trail outweighed the public’s right to know. As a result, a Dec. 16, affidavit and status conference remain sealed.
Yet, the following day, the court released a list of witnesses to be called during Lori’s upcoming trial. Those included Lori and Chad Daybell, Pastenes, the Daybell children, Lori’s brother Adam Cox and his children, Lori’s friend, Melanie Gibb; Shiflet and family members, David Warrick, Larry and Kay Woodcock, April Raymond, Annie Cushing, Lori’s niece Melanie Boudreaux Pawlowski and her former husband, Ian Pawlowski; Chad’s sister-in-law, Heather Daybell, and brother, Matthew Daybell; and people associated with both the “Preparing People” organization and those from the Another Voice of Warning website.
The court charges Vallow-Daybell with two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy, alter or conceal evidence after her children were found buried on Chad’s Idaho property June 9. Chad was also charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence after the bodies of Tylee, 17, and J.J. Vallow, 7, were found.
It has been just over a year since J.J. and Tylee were reported missing. When the Standard Journal reported police were searching for the youth, the story quickly became a national story stretching throughout 2020.
On Sunday, Investigation Discovery broadcast a three-hour documentary on the case focusing on Rexburg, the Standard Journal and law enforcement’s efforts in bringing the children home.
As more information on Friday’s court hearing becomes available, the Standard Journal will update this story.