Lori Vallow Daybell in court for hearing related to witness testimony

Posted at 2:44 PM, March 29, 2023 and last updated 8:03 AM, March 30, 2023

By: KIVI Staff

BOISE, Idaho (KIVI) — A last-minute hearing was scheduled in the Lori Vallow Daybell case and held at the Ada County Courthouse Wednesday morning.

Judge Steven Boyce called the hearing to publicly discuss the legal definition of a “victim” and who it would apply to in this case.

Lori Vallow motions hearing Aug. 16, 2022

FILE – Lori Vallow Daybell sits between her attorneys for a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Aug. 16, 2022. (Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News/Pool, File)

Judge Boyce issued an order that would exclude witnesses from sitting in on certain testimony, but victims in the case could be exceptions. The question is, who is legally considered a victim?

RELATED: Lori Vallow Daybell case: Timeline of events ahead of trial

The concern is whether listening in to certain evidence or testimony could change a witness’s testimony if they are later called for questioning.

Lori Vallow Daybell was present for the hearing with her attorneys Jim Archibald and John Thomas. This is the first time she has appeared publicly in Ada County.

During the hearing, the defense and prosecution argued which family members they believe fit the legal definition of a victim.

Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood argued the court’s interpretation of a victim should include anyone who suffers emotional harm as the result of an offense. He pointed to JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, who he believes fit the definition and should be allowed to watch the entirety of the trial.

Wood also argued Lori’s sister, Summer Shiftlet, and Lori’s son, Colby Ryan, should be considered victims in the case. Shiftlet is the aunt of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Colby Ryan is the half-brother of the two deceased children.

READ MORE:  Judge rules no death penalty for Lori Vallow Daybell

Lori’s defense team responded saying they believe Colby Ryan is the only relative who fits the legal definition of a victim since he is a sibling of the deceased victims. Archibald argued aunts and grandparents should not be considered victims.

Archibald also argued the children of Tammy Daybell would fit the legal definition of victims in the case, but said he does not believe they plan to be present at the trial.

Archibald then discussed Idaho adoption laws and argued since JJ’s biological parents gave up their legal parental rights, that means Kay Woodcock is no longer legally JJ’s grandmother.

FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 file photo Kay and Larry Woodcock speak to members of the media at the Rexburg Standard Journal Newspaper in Rexburg, Idaho.  (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, File)

Archibald says Kay Woodcock “gave herself” the name of “Grandma”. He argued since she is Charles Vallow’s sister, she is actually JJ’s aunt, and therefore not an immediate family member that would meet the legal definition of a victim in the case.

Judge Boyce will consider the arguments and will issue a written ruling on who will be considered a victim in the case, therefore who would be permitted to be present during portions of testimony by early next week.

Prosecution and defense must submit supplemental briefings to the judge by 5:00 p.m. Friday.

This story was originally published on March 29, 2023, by KIVI in Boise, an E.W. Scripps Company.