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‘We Don’t Believe Lori Actually Participated’: Defense Attorneys for ‘Doomsday Cult’ Mom Aim to Avoid Potential Death Penalty in Double Child Murder Case

Lori Vallow-Daybell leaves the courthouse

Lori Vallow-Daybell leaves a courthouse in Idaho on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

An attorney for Lori Vallow Daybell, a doomsday-cult-connected mother of two dead children, argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to seek the death penalty in her upcoming murder trial during a Thursday afternoon hearing.

“We don’t believe the state is going to be able to prove Lori was a major contributor to the crime,” attorney John Thomas told District Judge Steven Boyce. “We don’t believe Lori actually participated in any of these events or that she even knew about them. She didn’t anticipate them happening and certainly was not a participant.”

According to a courtroom report by East Idaho News journalist Nate Eaton, attorneys for Vallow tried to dissuade the court from allowing potential capital punishment – should their client ultimately be found guilty of murder.

Vallow’s attorney Jim Archibald argued that taking the death penalty off the table was in the Gem State’s best financial interests.

“The appeals process will go on forever if the state receives its wish of the death penalty in this case,” he said. “That is why I’m asking the court to stop this nonsense now and declare Idaho’s capital punishment scheme unconstitutional.”

“In a state that’s fiscally conservative, it’s not very fiscally conservative to have the death penalty,” Archibald added later.

Vallow, 49, and her husband, Chad Daybell, 54, are accused of murder in the 2019 deaths of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17. Each of the children disappeared on different dates in September of that year.

The charges against the couple in relation to Vallow’s children outline a long-and-winding alleged conspiracy of cult-oriented killings.

Daybell’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell, 49, died in October 2019. Authorities did not initially suspect foul play but have since charged him with her murder. Alex Cox — an unindicted co-conspirator who died in December 2019 from a blood clot — admittedly shot and killed Vallow’s previous husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019 and claimed self-defense.

Investigators again reassessed. Vallow is now charged with conspiracy in Arizona over her ex’s death. Cox also allegedly tried to kill Tammy Daybell days before her ex allegedly killed her.

Earlier this month, prosecutors filed a motion saying they intended to show the death penalty was more than appropriate.

“Sufficient evidence existed for the Grand Jury to find the defendant Lori Vallow intended for her children, and for Tammy Daybell to die. Further, there is sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that the defendant participated in the killing of her own children. The facts of this case are egregious and heinous,” Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake in a motion obtained by Boise ABC affiliate KATU. “The evidence the state will introduce at trial, some of which have already been reviewed by the Grand Jury, will show that the defendant intended for her children, and her boyfriend’s wife to die, and that she affirmatively acted to make those deaths happen.”

Blake is handling the case alongside Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood.

“I’m not going to get into the evidence of the case,” Wood reportedly said in response to Thomas’s vote of confidence in his client. “Sufficient to say, a grand jury has found probable cause that she did commit these crimes. She intended for her children and Tammy Daybell to die. The state will prove that.”

Prosecutors castigated the request by Vallow’s defense attorneys to bar the death penalty.

“This motion is really asking the court to almost be a super-legislature and set aside the will of the people of Idaho,” Missouri-based prosecuting attorney Rachel Smith argued. “The law in Idaho is clear that jurors must be able to follow instructions as given and not superimpose their personal beliefs.”

Vallow’s defense said the death penalty process is flawed and replete with mistakes.

“Half the states in the nation have done away with the death penalty,” Archibald said. “Why? Because standards of decency change over time. Standards in our communities change over time.”

Boyce noted the technical nature of the defense motion on the constitutionality of the death penalty in Idaho and did not issue a ruling.

[image via Jordan Wood – East Idaho News]

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