IDAHO - Idaho Judge Steven Boyce on Monday denied Lori Vallow's motion to dismiss her murder case for lack of a speedy trial and set a trial date for April 3 after approximately three years of back-and-forth since her 2020 arrest in Hawaii.
Vallow has spent more than a thousand days in jail as she awaits her joint murder trial with husband Chad Daybell, which was initially set for 2021 but has been delayed due to her competency examinations and an "exceptionally voluminous" collection of evidence, among other factors.
"The delay is, as a whole, minimal given the overall charges and maximum penalties imposed," Boyce wrote in his memorandum denying Vallow's request to dismiss.
Boyce determined that despite the Daybells' repeated requests to push the trial back until later this year or next year, an April 2023 timeframe will "reduce the impact of unnecessary delay."
Vallow's attorneys are arguing that the court has deprived the murder suspect of her right to a speedy trial, but Boyce said Idaho law has an exception for cases in which "a defendant's trial is postponed by their own application."
Vallow's attorneys wanted her to undergo a competency evaluation before a Fremont County grand jury issued an indictment against her in 2021. The court found that Vallow was not competent to stand trial, and she spent months in the hospital undergoing treatment.
After a "lengthy period of commitment for restorative treatment, Lori was arraigned on April 19, 2022," Boyce wrote. She underwent a second competency evaluation then, at which point she was deemed competent to stand trial.
Authorities arrested Vallow in February 2020 and Daybell in June 2020.
The Fremont County grand jury initially issued indictments against Vallow and Daybell in May 2021 on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Vallow's two children, 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
Since November 2022, various other-back-and-forth between prosecutors and Vallow's and Daybell's defense teams has ensued, including arguments about whether state prosecutors have shown "good cause" to delay the trial; whether Daybell can sever his trial from Vallow's — a motion that Boyce has previously denied; incomplete discovery; and requests from Vallow and Daybell to transfer their trial from Fremont County to Ada County.
Additionally, Vallow "will not waive her right to accommodate more preparation for her attorneys."
"As a natural consequence of the complexity of the investigation in this case, the preparation and dissemination of the discovery in this case has been an ongoing issue. All parties have argued at various times that the discovery is exceptionally voluminous, causing concerns about preparations and adequate disclosures. The Court has sought to carefully balance requests for extensions of time with Lori's speedy trial right."
Meanwhile, Daybell's defense filed another motion to sever his case from his wife's on Monday.
J.J. and Tylee disappeared in September 2019.
Lori and Chad Daybell are accused of killing 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow in 2019. (Rexberg Police Department)
The children were missing for several months — when police say the couple lied about the children’s whereabouts and then slipped away to Hawaii — before their bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell's property in rural Idaho.
Vallow and Daybell, who married in November 2019, allegedly collected J.J.'s and Tylee's Social Security benefits between Oct. 1, 2019, and Jan. 22, 2020, after their murders.
The couple were indicted in late May 2021 on multiple counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception, first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder related to the deaths of Tylee, J.J. and Chad Daybell's ex-wife, officials announced at the time. Arizona officials in June 2021 also indicted Vallow in the July 2019 murder of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow.
Daybell has written several apocalyptic novels based loosely on Mormon theology. Both were involved in a group that promotes preparedness for the biblical end times. Vallow and Daybell bonded over their religious beliefs after initially meeting in 2018, when they appeared together for the first time on a podcast discussing theories about the end of the world.