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Prosecutors in Idaho are seeking the death penalty for Lori Vallow if she is convicted of the murders of her children, who were found buried in her husband’s backyard.
Prosecuting attorneys in Fremont and Madison County filed motions on Monday stating their intention to ask that the accused killer be sentenced to death if she's convicted, as first reported by East Idaho News. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Vallow stood silently in a courtroom during an arraignment hearing, prompting District Judge Steve Boyce to enter a plea of “not guilty” on her behalf for the 2020 murders of Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7.
The plea came days after it was announced that Vallow had been restored to competency following a year of treatment at a mental health facility.
In Monday’s filing, Fremont County’s Lindsay Blake and Madison County’s Rob Wood cited their reasons for seeking the death penalty, should Vallow be convicted on charges of first-degree murder and/or conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Those reasons include that the alleged murders were also allegedly committed for financial gain, were “especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or manifesting exceptional depravity,” demonstrated an “utter disregard” for human life and that Vallow would still be a threat to society if set free.
Lori Vallow was also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder connected to the July 2019 death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow.
The state already announced its intent to seek the death penalty for Vallow’s current husband, Chad Daybell, who is also accused of killing Vallow’s children and of killing his wife, Tammy Daybell, in 2019.
Prosecutors filed a separate motion on Monday in hopes of having Vallow tried alongside Daybell, whose trial is expected to begin in January.
Daybell entered a plea of “not guilty” last year.
Vallow’s trial had been scheduled for October after she stated she had no intention of waiving her right to a speedy trial, per her attorney at April’s hearing. This would mean that her court proceedings would have to begin within six months of her arraignment, in accordance with the law.
Prosecutors also noted that having one trial for the children’s murders would be a cost-effective alternative to hosting separate trials.
It will ultimately be up to Judge Steven Boyce to decide if the married couple will face the murder charges together.
Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow were last seen alive at separate times in September 2019.
Vallow and Daybell married the following November before leaving for Hawaii, less than a month after Daybell’s wife was allegedly killed.
JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, sounded the alarm after they hadn’t seen the children in some time, as previously reported.
Authorities arrested Vallow in February 2020 for failing to produce her children by a court-mandated deadline.
Four months later, the children’s bodies were found on Daybell’s property. Tylee Ryan’s remains had been charred, while JJ’s remains were bound with duct tape and wrapped in plastic.
Daybell was arrested soon after.
“What could JJ have been?” Larry Woodcock asked. “His mind was limitless. He was doing math in his head at 3 years old.”
Woodcock cried in front of guests, recalling the special attention his grandson required.
“If you have ever been around autistic, special needs children, they are so special, and they are so good,” he added. “If there’s anything I’m happy about, it’s that I had JJ in my life.”
The judge has yet to rule whether on the prosecution’s recent motions.
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