Judge dismisses death penalty for Lori Vallow Daybell

The most recent mugshot of Lori Vallow Daybell after she was returned to the Madison County Women's Detention Center in April 2022 following a stay in a state mental health facility. Photo credit: Madison Sheriff's Office

Lori Vallow Daybell no longer faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Judge Steven Boyce announced his decision to grant Lori’s motion to dismiss the death penalty in Fremont County District Court Tuesday.

Lori is facing three charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Tammy Daybell, the late wife of her husband Chad, and her children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.

East Idaho News reported that Boyce dismissed the death penalty “to ensure the rights of the defendant to a fair trial are protected.”

Lori’s attorneys, Jim Archibald and John Thomas, argued in their motion court filing that the extensive media coverage of the Daybell case would prejudice jurors and influence them in favor of a death sentence. They also said prosecutors have continually failed to disclose all available exculpatory evidence in the lead up to the trial. Archibald and Thomas also stated they were troubled that the state wanted to kill a mentally ill defendant.

The prosecutors for this case, Lindsey Blake and Rob Wood, responded that there is no evidence jurors would be prejudiced by current media coverage and that the Court has already made accommodations to mitigate bias by moving the trial to Ada County and banning cameras from the courtroom. They also argued alleged discovery violations are not legal grounds for a dismissal of the death penalty. To the defense’s statement that Lori is mentally ill, the prosecution said that Lori already said she would not argue a mental health defense.

Jury selection for Lori’s trial begins April 3 in Ada County.

Chad’s trial has yet to be scheduled. Judge Boyce severed their previously joint-trial earlier this month.