Lori Vallow Daybell wants death penalty dismissed; court issues rules for trial

Posted at 11:31 AM, March 10, 2023

By: Karen Lehr

BOISE, Idaho (KIVI) — Lori Vallow Daybell is set to stand trial for murder in a matter of weeks and her defense team remains busy filing motions in the case. This comes as the court officials set rules for the Ada County Trial, including public seating which will only be permitted through a reservation system.

The most recent documents filed by Vallow Daybell’s defense show efforts to take the death penalty off the table and exclude nearly 5,000 pages of evidence and 48 audio files the defense says they simply “will not and can not review all of this material prior to the jury trial selection starting in Boise on March 27, 2023.”


The eastern Idaho mom has been in jail since early 2020 and is accused of killing her two children – JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan – and conspiring to kill her husband’s previous wife – Tammy Daybell.

Requests to dismiss the death penalty

Vallow Daybell’s defense has previously filed a motion to dismiss the death penalty, but Judge Steve Boyce has yet to issue a ruling.

The most recent motion cites persistent media coverage and “nonstop articles about the case” which continue to “expose potential jurors to prejudice and bias against the defendant.”

Vallow Daybell’s defense team also says there have been multiple discovery violations by the government in this case.

“The government has bates stamped over 80,000 documents in this case, yet has admitted that it’s just the bulk of it, not all of it,” the document filed by Vallow Daybell’s attorney Jim Archibald states. “If there’s a death sentence in this case, appellate lawyers and post-conviction lawyers will inevitably find additional discovery that has not been turned over, as the government has essentially admitted it hasn’t turned everything over. Such discovery failures will cause any death verdict to be vacated and the case will start over.”

Vallow Daybell’s defense also points to her mental illness as a reason to take the death penalty off the table.

“The government wanting to kill a mentally ill person is a troubling thought,” the defense argues. “This past week the government submitted an opinion that maybe the defendant wasn’t mentally ill, but just evil. Even if the government’s new opinion of the defendant has some believers that the defendant is just evil, we don’t kill witches anymore in America.”

The defense also points to Idaho’s inability to secure the necessary drugs to perform an execution, saying “even if the government is successful in convincing a jury to kill her, it will never happen.”

Motion to exclude evidence

Lori Vallow appears in court in Lihue, Hawaii on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020

Lori Vallow appears in court in Lihue, Hawaii on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.  (Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island via AP, Pool)

An additional document filed in the case this week seeks to exclude evidence, only recently shared with the defense, from being introduced in the trial.

The defense argues the discovery provided late is 4,933 pages and 48 audio files containing over 30 hours of interviews.

“Defense counsel and the defendant will not and can not review all of this material prior to the jury trial selection starting in Boise on March 27, 2023. The only remedy available to the Court at this time, since the defendant has maintained her right to a speedy trial, is to prevent the admission of this evidence at trial,” the motion argues.

Courtroom rules issued

The Court also filed a six-page document outlining expectations for courtroom behavior during the trial which is expected to last eight to ten weeks beginning on April 3 in Boise.

Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom and the trial will not be broadcast.

Some seating will be reserved for counsel and family members of the defendant and victims. The public will be allowed inside the courtroom via a reservation system through Ada County. Media will not get priority seating. No standing in the courtroom will be allowed.

There will be two areas offered for overflow viewing of the public portions of the trial. One will be in the Ada County Courthouse, the other will be offered at the Madison County Courthouse. Reservations will still be needed.

Lori Vallow Daybell will be back in court Wednesday, March 15 at 9:30 a.m. for a hearing.

Judge Steven Boyce recently ruled to sever Vallow Daybell’s case from her husband Chad Daybell’s case. They were previously set to stand trial as co-defendants, but Chad Daybell has waived his right to a speedy trial and has repeatedly asked for the date to be pushed back citing new evidence his defense team needs adequate time to test and review.

This story was originally published March 7 by KIVI in Boise, an E.W. Scripps Company.