Lori Vallow won't face the death penalty if convicted in the deaths of her children, judge rules

The ruling on the dismissal of the death penalty only applies to Vallow, whose trial is set to begin April 3.

ByAmy Simonson, CNN
Friday, March 24, 2023
Lori Vallow case: 20/20's investigation
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Lori Vallow will not face the death penalty if she is convicted or murder in the deaths of her two children, an Idaho judge ruled.

Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, face multiple counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

The video featured is from a previous report.

The children's disappearance became national news after Vallow and Daybell fled Idaho following police questioning about Tylee's and JJ's whereabouts and about the recent death of Daybell's first wife, Tammy.

Attorneys for Vallow filed a motion earlier this month seeking the dismissal of the state's notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

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The death penalty should be dismissed because of media saturation, multiple discovery violations by the government, Vallow's mental status and the inability of the state to effectively administer the death penalty should the jury decide to impose it, the defense motion said.

On Tuesday, Fremont County District Judge Steven Boyce ruled in favor of the motion to dismiss.

"The court concludes here that as an appropriate discovery sanction, the state will be precluded from seeking the death penalty at trial, and the state's May 2, 2022, notice of intent to seek the death penalty will be stricken.

"To be clear, the court does not impose the sanction to penalize the state but rather to ensure the constitutional right of the defendant is protected, allowing for a reasonable defense to be prepared for this trial," Boyce said in an oral ruling.

Late disclosure of evidence by state prosecutors, who failed to meet the required deadline, could also lead to an appeal in the case, according to Boyce's ruling.

"First, with the defense having timely raised the issue, the court determines that if I were to fail to address this discovery issue, I believe this case would inevitably be reversed on appeal if there was a capital conviction," Boyce said in the ruling.

Boyce said that the court has not found any "willful conduct" on the part of the state and is not concerned with "any sort of sanction or punishment."

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State prosecutors proposed a continuance with the trial, but Boyce said in his ruling he would not consider that because the "defendant has unequivocally asserted her right to a speedy trial."

"While we are disappointed and respectfully disagree with today's decision, we will continue to vigorously pursue justice for Tammy, Tylee and JJ," Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said in a joint statement emailed to CNN on Tuesday,

CNN reached out to attorneys for Vallow for comment.

Vallow married Daybell two months after her children disappeared in September 2019, and a few weeks after the death of his first wife.

In June 2020, law enforcement officials found the remains of the children on Daybell's property in Fremont County, Idaho.

Vallow and Daybell were indicted on murder charges in May 2021. Daybell has also been charged with the murder of his first wife, who died in her sleep.

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The ruling on the dismissal of the death penalty only applies to Vallow, whose case has been separated from Daybell's. Vallow's trial is set to begin April 3.

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