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Lori Vallow Won't Face The Death Penalty If Convicted In Kids' Murders, Judge Rules

Lori Vallow Daybell is accused of murdering her children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, as well as her now-husband's wife Tammy Daybell. Her trial is slated to begin in April.

By Christina Coulter
Lori Vallow And Chad Daybell Are Indicted For Murder

Lori Vallow won't face the death penalty if she's convicted for the 2019 murders of her two children, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce agreed at a hearing in a St. Anthony, Idaho court to take death off the table as a potential punishment for the 49-year-old "to ensure the rights of the defendant to a fair trial are protected," according to East Idaho News

In a hearing on March 16, according to reporting by Law & Crime, Vallow's attorney Jim Archibald argued that numerous errors made in the prosecution of his client's case supported the removal of the death penalty.

RELATED: Lori Vallow ‘Intended’ For Her Children And Tammy Daybell To Die, Prosecutors Say

“Media saturation, multiple violations by the government, the government’s knowledge of my client’s mental health and the practical standpoint that Idaho has been trying to kill people on death row and hasn’t been able to do it because the Idaho Department of Correction can’t get chemicals to kill people,” the attorney told Boyce.

Prosecutors wrote that they were "disappointed and respectfully disagree" with Boyce's Tuesday ruling, but that they intend to "vigorously pursue justice for Tammy, Tylee and JJ," according to the East Idaho News.

Lori Vallow appears in court.

Now, Vallow's trial is slated to begin on April 3. Her defense attorneys unsuccessfully attempted last month to get the charges against her dismissed.

Vallow and her current husband Chad Daybell, 54, both face charges for the murder of her children, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and of Daybell's ex-wife Tammy Daybell. Both Vallow and Daybell have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Both children disappeared on different dates in September of 2019 – their remains were located in a shallow grave on Daybell's property in 2020.

Tammy Daybell died of what initially was deemed to be natural causes on October 19, 2019, just two weeks before Daybell and Vallow were married. Her body was exhumed for autopsy in December of that year after authorities began to have suspicions about the case of death. Though a medical examiner's report hasn't been made public Tammy's children say they've been told she died of asphyxiation, according to CBS News

In February of 2020, Vallow was arrested in Hawaii for the desertion of JJ and Tylee after failing to meet a court order to produce them safely. In June 2020, their remains were found on Chad Daybell's property in Fremont County, Idaho. Vallow was charged with her children's murders in May 2021. Her trial had previously been delayed amid questions about her competency, but she was determined fit to stand trial in November.

Recently, Daybell and Vallow's attorneys successfully argued for the couples' trials to be separated on the grounds that their defenses would be "mutually antagonistic," harming the chances for either of them to win an acquittal. Tuesday's decision to bar the death penalty will only apply to Vallow. 

"We don't believe the state is going to be able to prove Lori was a major contributor to the crime," John Thomas, one of Vallow's attorneys, told Boyce at a January hearing. "We don't believe Lori actually participated in any of these events or that she even knew about them. She didn't anticipate them happening and certainly was not a participant."

This directly contradicts the narrative laid out by prosecutors, who said in January that Vallow "intended for her children and Tammy Daybell to die" in their argument to maintain the possibility of a death penalty sentence. 

In addition to the three murder charges, an Arizona grand jury charged Vallow with conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, admitted to killing his sister's former husband in July of 2019, claiming self defense.

Authorities allege that Vallow and Daybell – who is the author of novels related to apocalyptic theology – believed that Vallow's former husband needed to die to fulfill a prophecy. Charles Vallow claimed in divorce filings that Lori told him she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020.”