Prosecutors have 60 days to file death penalty notice in Lori Vallow Daybell case as trial date is set

Lori Vallow Daybell stands between her attorneys. Photo: Nate Eaton/East Idaho News

ST. ANTHONY, Idaho, April 20, 2022 (East Idaho News/Gephardt Daily) — A trial date has been set in the case of Lori Vallow Daybell, but in order for it to happen on the scheduled dates, her case would need to be severed from her husband’s.

East Idaho News reports that District Judge Steven Boyce has scheduled the jury trial to begin in Ada County on Oct. 11 with a completion date of Dec. 16, according to paperwork filed Wednesday. A pre-trial conference is set for Sept. 6.

Daybell did not waive her right to a speedy trial during her arraignment Tuesday afternoon, meaning the trial must legally occur within six months. She and her husband, former Utahn Chad Daybell, are charged with multiple counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the deaths of Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife, and Lori’s children, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Chad has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Lori exercised her right to remain silent Tuesday. Instead, her attorney Jim Archibald asked Boyce to enter a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

Both cases are currently joined, and a trial is set to begin in January 2023. If Lori’s trial does proceed in the fall, Boyce would need to separate the cases. Last month, Boyce denied a motion to sever made by John Prior, Chad’s attorney.

Three weeks later, proceedings resumed in Lori’s case after she was found competent for trial. She had been at State Hospital North after being found incompetent last June.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Chad’s case, and if they plan to do the same with Lori, they have 60 days from Tuesday to file a notice with the court. Jim Archibald and John Thomas, Lori’s court-appointed public defenders, are both death penalty certified in Idaho.

While both trials are set to be held in Ada County, prosecutors argued Tuesday in a separate hearing that it will be significantly cheaper if jurors are bused into Fremont County from the Boise area rather than moving all proceedings to Ada County. Prior and Archibald are opposed to the idea. Boyce has not issued a ruling on the request.

A grand jury in Arizona also has indicted Lori for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. A Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokeswoman told East Idaho News in June that Lori’s Idaho case will run its course before she faces the charge in Arizona.

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