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Lori Vallow’s murder trial has been suspended as her competency is evaluated.
Judge Steven W. Boyce ordered the trial be postponed Thursday until a determination of her “competency to stand trial can be determined,” according to a court order obtained by Oxygen.com.
Vallow, who stands accused of killing her two youngest children, had been scheduled to go to trial alongside her fifth husband Chad Daybell in January 2023 but in light of the recent development, Boyce said it would be “impractical” to stick to that timeline.
As a result, Boyce concluded that he “sees no other alternative” than to vacate the Jan. 9 murder trial.
Vallow’s competency has been an ongoing issue in the case. A clinical psychologist determined in May of 2021 that Vallow was incompetent to stand trial and sent her to a mental health facility to receive treatment; however, her competency had been restored in April of this year and the trial against her once again began to move forward, according to court documents previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
Her defense team filed a sealed motion to stay the case yet again earlier this month and a short hearing was held on the matter, prompting the judge’s decision Thursday.
Based on the laws in the state, to be considered fit for trial, Vallow would need to understand the proceedings against her and be able to participate in her own defense.
Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell are facing first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges in the death of her children Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, whose remains were discovered buried on Daybell’s property in June of 2020.
The children had disappeared, weeks apart, in September of 2019.
It’s not clear what impact the recent ruling will have on the case against Daybell, although his attorneys had filed a motion in late September to postpone his trial and separate the two cases, Fox News reports.
His attorneys have argued that Daybell would be unable to present a “complete defense” if the cases were tried together, also noting that prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty against Vallow could unfairly prejudice the jury against Daybell.
The couple is also facing charges connected to the death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, who died in October of 2019. Vallow and Daybell got married in Hawaii just two weeks later.
In addition, Vallow is also facing her own set of conspiracy to commit murder charges in Arizona in connection with the July 2019 death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow.
Her brother, Alex Cox, who has since died of what police said were natural causes, told police at the time that he had shot Charles in self-defense.
However, prosecutors alleged in a later indictment in the case that Lori had “agreed” with her brother that “at least one of them” would kill Charles before his death.
Those close to Vallow have said in the months leading up to the deaths, Vallow had adopted a bizarre set of religious beliefs and had become enthralled with ideas allegedly embraced by Daybell, a religious doomsday author and speaker.
Her friend Melanie Gibb told investigators that Vallow had become convinced that many of her close family members, including Charles, JJ and Tylee, had become “zombies” before their deaths, according to a probable cause statement previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
Gibb said Vallow used the term “zombies” to describe someone whose spirit had left their body and had been replaced by a “dark spirit.”
“At some point after Gibb first learned of this doctrine from Vallow and Daybell, she was informed by Daybell and Vallow that they believed it was their mission to rid the world of zombies,” Lt. Ron Ball wrote in the probable cause statement.
Vallow’s case has been the subject of multiple podcasts and documentaries, most recently the Netflix limited docuseries “Sins of our Mother” which premiered last month.
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