Prosecutors intend to seek death penalty for Lori Vallow: here's what you need to know about the complex case
ST. ANTHONY, Idaho - We have learned that prosecutors in Idaho have filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Lori Vallow, who is charged with conspiring with her new husband to kill her two children.
This decision comes after a judge has decided that Vallow is now fit to participate in her own court proceedings.
The case involving Vallow, which first began as the disappearances of two children with Phoenix area ties - Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan - has since uncovered a complex sequence of events that have garnered national and international media attention.
Here's what you should know about the case.
So, what did Lori Vallow do to get into the predicament she's in right now?
The complex case involving Lori Vallow and her current husband, Chad Daybell, began in 2018.
Chad Daybell (left) and Lori Vallow (right)
According to the indictment, 2018 was when Chad and Lori Daybell — both still married to other people at the time — became sharing a mutual interest over an unorthodox system of religious beliefs linked to the end of times.
We have previously covered religious beliefs espoused by Daybell, in an April 2020 article. On Oct. 30, 2018, Daybell sent an e-mail to Vallow, which reads "Here are the family history documents you requested." The attachments include a rubric, explaining how there are "light" and "dark" spirits", showing levels of estates. Another attachment lists Vallow's family tree, which includes her parents, siblings, past husbands, and her kids.
Daybell's former friend, Julie Rowe, said Daybell is off base.
"You cannot just go and test and say, 'OK, this person is a 4.1 dark," said Rowe.
Charles Vallow, who died in July 2019
We first reported on the case involving Vallow in July 2019, when we reported on a family fight in Chandler that ended in a deadly shooting.
"According to a statement, the victim, identified as Charles Vallow of Texas, was declared dead at the scene after he was found unresponsive with two gunshot wounds to the chest," the report read at the time.
Authorities identified the man who shot and killed Charles as Charles' then brother-in-law, who we now know as Alex Cox. Cox died in December 2019, and a subsequent medical examiner's report ruled that Cox died of natural causes.
In the months prior to Charles' death, he had at least two interactions with police over Vallow. Charles had also filed for divorce from Vallow in February 2019, but the petition was dismissed by Charles a month later.
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In the months following Charles' death, JJ and Tylee went missing. The children were taken to Rexburg, Idaho by Vallow, and later disappeared.
Vallow and Daybell were married in November 2019, and in January 2020, Vallow, who was in Hawaii by that time, was served with an order to physically produce JJ and Tylee. Vallow was arrested in February 2020 and accused of felony child abandonment.
Remains found on Daybell's property in June 2020 were later confirmed to be those of JJ and Tylee.
In addition to charges connected with JJ and Tylee's death, Vallow is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Charles' death.
Also Read: Interactive Timeline of the Vallow-Daybell case
What does the judge's decision mean for Vallow?
District Judge Steven Boyce had previously ruled that Vallow Daybell was unfit for trial and extended her stay in an Idaho mental hospital by at least 180 days. Vallow was committed to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on June 8, 2021, after a mental health professional said she was not competent to stand trial.
Judge Boyce's decision to restore Vallow's competency means that she is now fit to proceed with the charges filed against her, and will be transferred into the custody of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office before being arraigned on murder charges in JJ and Tylee's deaths, as well as the death of Daybell's first wife, Tammy.
What does the notice of intent filed by prosecutors mean for Vallow?
The notice states that in the event that Vallow is found guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors will seek to put Vallow to death.
Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell to be tried together in 2023
In his memorandum decision granting the motion to continue Lori Vallow's trial, Judge Steven Boyce wrote on May 26 that the defendant postponed her trial on her own application.
After being indicted on murder charges in May 2021, Vallow's former attorney Mark Means filed a request for the court to order she undergo a mental health evaluation. In June 2021, she was committed to a state hospital and placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Vallow was deemed incompetent and treated for nearly a year before she was finally restored to competency on April 11, 2022, arraigned on charges eight days later.
Vallow did not waive her right to a speedy trial, meaning her trial was scheduled six months after the arraignment in October 2022.
Judge Boyce wrote that prosecutors showed "good cause" for a further delay due to co-defendants Vallow and Daybell facing the death penalty
Daybell did waive his right to a speedy trial and the husband and wife were originally set to be tried together on January 9, 2023. Boyce also said that Vallow and Daybell face the death penalty, accused of co-conspiring to commit murder as well as financial crimes. The triple-murder case comes with an "extraordinary volume of discovery" and Vallow's defense team has recently been fully assembled. The State also argued that there would be an improper severance if Vallow's trial remained in October, causing Daybell to join her.
The court does not want to deprive Daybell of "necessary time to prepare", said Boyce.
Judge Boyce concluded by saying Vallow's constitutional rights are not violated by delaying the trial by 82 days from October 11, 2022, to January 9, 2023.
On Oct. 4, we learned that Vallow's attorneys asked to continue the trial, for reasons that were redacted from the documents we obtained.
"[The] defense asks for a toll on the time limit in which to comply with pretrial orders, a continuance of the pretrial date, and a continuance of the trial date," a portion of the documents read.
According to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, a continuance is what a court may grant to delay proceedings until a later date.
"Continuances are similar to both postponements and stays of proceedings," read a portion of the LII's website.
At the same time, a filing made by an attorney representing the State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare states that the department "does not intend to take a position or otherwise participate in the proceedings that are currently pending before the court."
On Oct. 6, a judge in Idaho has decided to suspend the trial until Vallow's competency to stand trial can be determined.
What are others saying about the judge's decision?
JJ's grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, say they will attend the arraignment.
"It's very important to us to make sure she knows we are following this through, and we'll never stop," Kay said. "Whatever happens in the darkness always comes to light, and you can't run from your crimes, and you're going to have to pay."
"This time, I think at some point she's gonna have to look us in the eyes, and I cannot wait because we are not giving up on this," Larry said.
Is Vallow facing other potential criminal charges?
Prosecutors in Maricopa County are still reviewing charges in connection with the attempted murder of a man named Brandon Boudreaux.
In January 2020, we reported that Boudreaux was shot at as he was pulling into his home's driveway.
"All I could think was someone shooting at me. What do I do? I need to hit the gas and get out of here," Boudreaux said.
A closer look of Boudreaux's car showed the car had a broken window and a bullet hole.
Boudreaux's ex-wife, a woman whose name is now Melani Pawlowski, is Vallow's niece. Boudreaux has said he believes the attempt on his life, in addition Charles' death and the case involving JJ and Tylee, are all connected.
What about Daybell?
As for Daybell, he is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the deaths of JJ, Tylee, and his first wife, Tammy. He has pleaded not guilty to all the Idaho charges.
Daybell does not face charges in Arizona. In March, we reported that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has refused to prosecute Daybell for the attempted murder of Boudreaux.
This story was reported on from Phoenix. The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
Continuing coverage: Lori Vallow-Chad Daybell case
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Chad Daybell, top left; Lori Vallow, top right; JJ Vallow, bottom left; Tylee Ryan, bottom right.