Daybell trial judge explains why he dismissed the death penalty for Lori

Lori Daybell's trial will be held at the Ada County Courthouse. Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson
Ada County Courthouse.
Lori Daybell’s trial will be held at the Ada County Courthouse. Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson

Scroll obtained an audio recording of Tuesday’s hearing regarding the impending trial for Lori Vallow Daybell.

In the hearing, Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce dismissed the death penalty as a potential sentence for Lori. Lori will be tried on charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell. Ryan and Vallow were her children.

Lori’s defense filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the death penalty and cited four main arguments:

1. Media saturation of the case creating bias in a jury
2. Multiple discovery violations by the state
3. Lori’s mental status
4. The inability of the state to impose the death penalty given recent delays in the Gerald Pizzuto Jr. execution

Judge Boyce focused on the state’s discovery violations and agreed that prosecutors’ disclosures of evidence beyond the Feb. 27 deadline constitutes an unacceptable violation. Discovery is the process of the exchange of information about witnesses and evidence between all parties in a court case.

The Court previously said the discovery was to be completed before Feb. 27. Prosecutors disclosed discovery on Feb. 27, which Boyce excused as a mistake made in good faith, but then on March 13 they provided the defense with a reported 100 hours of recordings of jailhouse meetings between Lori and her co-defendant husband Chad.

Since Lori has “unequivocally asserted her right to a speedy trial,” Boyce said the appropriate and lawful option to remedy this state violation is to dismiss the death penalty.

Boyce said that if he failed to remedy this violation, an appellate court would reverse any capital conviction on the defendant anyway.

Lori’s trial begins April 3 in Ada County. Madison County residents can view all public portions of the trial at the county courthouse, though seating is limited.