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Lori Vallow Daybell Files Motion To Take Death Penalty Off The Table

Lori Vallow Daybell's lawyers asked that she not be subject to the death penalty if convicted of the murders of her children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and her now-husband's wife Tammy Daybell. 

By Megan Carpentier
Lori Vallow And Chad Daybell Are Indicted For Murder

Lawyers for Lori Vallow Daybell have filed motions to keep prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Lori Vallow Daybell, 49, and her husband, Chad Daybell, 54, were in Fremont (Idaho) County Court on Thursday for the judge in their case to hear pre-trial motions, the East Idaho News reported.

The Daybells both face murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection with the deaths of her children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7 and Tylee Ryan, 16, as well as Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy. Tammy Daybell died in 2019, though her death was initially ruled a result of natural causes. Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were married two weeks later.

The children were reported missing in November 2019, and their bodies were discovered buried on a property belonging to Chad Daybell in June 2020.

RELATED: University of Idaho Suspect Reportedly Sent Series Of Messages To Victim On Instagram Before Killings

Lori Vallow Daybell faces separate charges in Arizona for conspiracy to murder her previous husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. He was killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in what Cox had claimed was self defense. Cox subsequently died of natural causes in December 2019.

Lori Vallow appears in court.

The Daybells have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them. Lori Vallow Daybell has been in and out of treatment in order to restore her competence to participate in her trial. Chad Daybell's lawyers had filed a motion last year to separate their trials, but the judge did not grant the motion.

The debate over whether Lori Vallow Daybell should face the death penalty if convicted of the charges against her was previewed in motions filed by both the prosecution and defense earlier this month, Oxygen.com previously reported. In their motions, her defense asked the judge to declare her “not eligible” for the death penalty, arguing she lacked the “requisite culpability to be charged with the death penalty” and that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to show she should be eligible.

Prosecutors in their motions last week argued that "there is sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that the Defendant participated in the killing of her own children."

Vallow Daybell's lawyers admitted in court that their motions against the death penalty would likely be heard at the appellate level, and the judge in the case agreed to issue written rulings at a later date, the East Idaho News reported.

Vallow Daybell's lawyers had also filed motions for her and her lawyers to meet with Chad Daybell and his lawyer, characterizing it as "strategy sessions" to discuss their "settlement options." Daybell's lawyer objected to the term "strategy sessions," but agreed such meetings would be useful as "trial prep." 

Prosecutors objected, noting that attorney-client privilege only extends to the lawyers' immediate clients, and warning that if one defendant said something self-incriminating in front of the other party's lawyers, the lawyers could become witnesses. (They also noted that settlement negotiations are conducted with prosecutors, not between co-defendants' lawyers.)

The judge denied the motion for the two defendants to be able to meet prior to trial.

Prosecutors did lose a motion to sequester the jury in the case, which is scheduled to begin in April and last for more than two months.

Daybell's defense lawyers lost a motion to further delay his trial until 2024 as they are still awaiting the results from some DNA evidence in the case. But because Vallow Daybell has not waived her right to a speedy trial and the two are being tried together, the judge refused to grant the motion for now.

However, he reserved the right to revisit that decision and his earlier decision to try the two spouses together if the DNA evidence proves potentially exculpatory and Daybell and his lawyer need more time to prepare.

Vallow Daybell and Daybell are due back in court for a pretrial hearing in February, according to jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com.