Skip to main content

‘Exceptionally complex conspiracy case’: Lori Vallow loses bid to have triple murder charges dismissed

A video screengrab shows Lori Vallow Daybell.

Lori Vallow Daybell smiled in court several times during an Aug. 16, 2022, pretrial hearing. (Image via Law&Crime Network)

Lori Vallow Daybell, the 49-year-old doomsday-cult-connected mother of two dead children and two dead ex-husbands, will have to stand trial on triple murder charges, a judge in Idaho ruled on Tuesday.

Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce ruled against a request from Vallow’s attorneys to have the charges against their client dismissed based on an alleged violation of her right to a speedy trial.

“Here we are with a trial set that the defense knows is outside the time of speedy trial, the state knows is outside the time of speedy trial, so what’s the remedy?” defense attorney Jim Archibald asked rhetorically, before answering his question during a hearing last week. “The Idaho legislature says the remedy is for the indictment to be dismissed. The speedy trial obligation is on the prosecution, not the judge, not the defendant, not the defense lawyers. The obligation to respect a speedy trial right is on the government, the prosecution.”

In late January, Archibald and fellow defense attorney John Thomas filed a motion arguing that the prosecution had violated state law and the U.S. Constitution because their client had already spent over 1,169 days in pretrial detention.

In a 16-page memo and order, Boyce said the amount of time spent in jail was acceptable since it’s a complex case.

The judge disagreed with the defense that the clock should have started running 1,169 days since Vallow was in custody. She was indicted in late May 2021. The defense has been the cause of multiple delays based on mental competency issues, Boyce noted.

The court determined that the time to start running the clock was when she was arraigned on April 19, 2022.

Under Idaho statutory law, a defendant must go to trial within six months from their arraignment unless “good cause” can be shown, Boyce noted. Under that standard, Vallow’s trial would have had to begin by Oct. 19, 2022.

Vallow and her current husband, Chad Daybell, 54, her fifth spouse, are accused of murder in the 2019 deaths of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17.

Their burned bodies were found, duct-taped, bagged, dismembered, and buried in shallow graves on Daybell’s property in June 2020. The children disappeared on different dates in September 2019. Vallow was arrested in Hawaii in February 2020 on child desertion charges.

The couple was indicted for the murder of the children and Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, 49, in May 2021.

Considering the voluminous evidence and discovery in a case spanning years and multiple states, the judge said the good cause standard was met, and the 126-day lapse in her speedy trial right is not enough to have the charges against her dismissed.

The court said both sides have accepted how complicated the triple murder case is, and both have sought to further delay proceedings into next year. But, the court said, the upcoming trial date of April 3 will reduce the impact of an unnecessary delay.

“On balance, though the court is mindful of the overall length of time Lori has been in custody on charges preceding the indictment, and the potential anxieties or concerns Lori has in a long pretrial incarceration, the relevant time frame to consider the merits of a motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of a speedy trial cuts against finding an intolerable delay given this exceptionally complex conspiracy case,” Boyce wrote. “The delay is, as a whole, minimal given the overall charges and maximum penalties imposed.”

Join the discussion 

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: