Prosecutors: Lori Daybell intended for her children to die and participated in their killings

Posted at 12:29 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 14:29:40-05

This article was shared from East Idaho News, written by Nate Eaton.

Prosecutors plan to present “sufficient evidence” that shows Lori Vallow Daybell intended for her two children and Tammy Daybell to die and that she participated in the killings of her kids.

That’s according to court documents filed Thursday from Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake.

The prosecutors also expressed “serious reservations” about Daybell’s request to meet with her husband Chad, and they argue her alleged actions make her eligible for the death penalty.

Lori and Chad Daybell are charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan – two of Lori’s children – along with Chad’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell.

Death penalty response

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the Daybells, but Lori’s attorneys filed a motion this month arguing Blake and Wood have not been specific enough in stating why their client is eligible for death.

Defense attorney Jim Archibald asked District Judge Steven Boyce to declare the death penalty unconstitutional in the case and take it off the table.

In the newly filed objection to Archibald’s motion, prosecutors explained why they believe Daybell qualifies for the death penalty.

“Sufficient evidence existed for the grand jury to find probable cause that the defendant intended for her children and Tammy Daybell to die. Further, there is sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that the defendant participated in the killing of her own children,” Blake wrote.

Blake calls the facts in the case “egregious and heinous.”

“The evidence the state will introduce at trial, some of which a grand jury has already reviewed, will establish that the defendant intended for her children and her boyfriend’s wife to die, and that she affirmatively acted to make those deaths happen.”

Lori’s attorneys filed a notice of alibi this month, saying her children died in the apartment of her brother, Alex Cox, while she was in her own apartment and that she was in Hawaii when Tammy Daybell died.

Response to Chad and Lori meeting

In a separate court filing, prosecutors responded to Lori’s request to meet with Chad in person and talk with him on the phone for “strategy sessions” ahead of their trial.

Archibald said he and co-counsel John Thomas will attend the meetings and phone conversations, along with John Prior, Chad’s attorney, and the conversations will not be recorded or used as evidence.

“The state has serious reservations about allowing the co-defendants to have face-to-face, or other communication directly with each other,” Wood wrote. “The state recognizes that the defendants have agreed to not use any evidence or information they may obtain through any discussions or meetings against each other; nevertheless, the state is not willing to make a similar agreement.

“Any communications between each individual defendant and his/her attorney(s) are confidential; however, having the other defendant and/or his/her counsel present would make them potential witnesses of statements made by the other defendant and eliminate any claim to attorney/client privilege,” Wood continues.

While not completely objecting to the idea of the Daybells meeting, Wood asks Boyce to consider objections raised by prosecutors.

DNA testing

Prosecutors acknowledge in another court filing that hair samples recently discovered by the Idaho State Lab may be used to determine if there is sufficient DNA to create a DNA profile.

Based on court documents filed in July, it’s likely the hair came from duct tape inside a body bag used to transport JJ’s remains, but the new filings do not provide specifics.

The hair may be destroyed while the lab is testing for DNA, prosecutors wrote.

“In the event sufficient DNA is available to create more than one profile, the DNA sample will be split between the parties for testing, and each party may have the expert of their choice test their respective portions of the DNA,” prosecutors said. “In the event sufficient DNA is available for only one profile to be created, the parties agree the State Lab shall halt any further testing and the parties will reconvene at that time to determine who should conduct any further testing.”

Jury sequestration and timing of trial

Legal counsel for both Chad and Lori filed separate motions objecting to having the jury sequestered when the trial begins in the spring.

“The state has failed to provide any rational justification for placing jury members in an isolated environment for almost three months,” wrote Prior, Chad’s attorney. “… The court has taken the necessary precautions to limit exposure of the evidence in this matter, and an instruction from the court should be more than acceptable to limit outside influences.”

Lori’s attorneys noted a media camera ban, issued by Boyce in September, has helped reduce pre-trial publicity, and there is no need to sequester members of the jury.

“For the jury to be sequestered away from their family, children and homes for two months, without phones and TV and internet, would cause an undue burden on the jurors,” Archibald wrote.

Prosecutors also responded to Prior’s motion to postpone the trial until April 2024. In a motion filed this month, Prior said he needs a substantial amount of time to prepare for the trial.

“Counsel has represented the defendant for over three years regarding the allegations which are part of this case,” prosecutors wrote. “Presumably, given the length and nature of the representation, it would seem the defendant has had adequate time to consult with his counsel and provide him information necessary to obtain any relevant documents and evidence.”

What’s next

The motions will be heard in front of Boyce on Thursday in Fremont County. Additional hearings are scheduled in February and March before the trial is set to begin April 3 in Ada County. Chad and Lori Daybell have pleaded not guilty to all charges.