Judge rules Lori Vallow is competent to stand trial
BOISE, IDAHO (3TV/CBS 5/AP) - A judge ruled Monday morning that Lori Vallow, the former Valley mother accused of killing her two children, is competent to stand trial. New court documents say the “order staying the case” has been lifted and Vallow has been restored to competency and that allows the case to proceed. There were no other details released about her treatment or mental condition.
Vallow has been transferred from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare back to the custody of the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office for her arraignment on April 19. Both Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell, are set to stand trial together early next year.
A licensed clinical psychologist found Vallow incompetent to stand trial in May. The Idaho prosecutor initially challenged the competency finding but withdrew it a few weeks later. Court documents said the prosecutor did not object to any medical treatment Vallow may need to one day become competent so the trial can proceed.
In September, a judge found Vallow was still incompetent based on information from the mental health facility where she was being treated. The issue was to be revisited in six months.
A grand jury indicted Vallow and Daybell with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Lori Daybell’s children 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, as well as Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. The bodies of the two kids were found in Daybell’s backyard in Idaho in June 2020.
Vallow is also charged in Arizona with conspiring to kill her former estranged husband, Charles Vallow, with the help of her now-deceased brother, Alex Cox. While Vallow was getting the restorative treatment, Daybell pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy charges. The Idaho state prosecutor announced he would seek the death penalty against Daybell. Lori Vallow has not yet had an opportunity to enter a plea. Chad Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, declined to comment on the case. Lori Vallow’s attorney, Jim Archibald, did not immediately respond to voice and email messages requesting comment. Prosecutors have said they’re seeking the death penalty against Chad Daybell.
Mel McDonald, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, said Vallow’s treatment will have an impact on the trial going forward. “There must have been some pretty compelling reasons to go in there in the first place--and then to be in there that long--I think for the purpose of the trial defense it’s going to bode well for her,” McDonald said. He said Vallow may take a plea deal knowing the death penalty is on the table, but only time will tell. “The biggest obstacle I think they face with a plea is that I don’t know whether Lori Vallow would want to turn against Chad Daybell,” McDonald explained.
JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, said they’re excited to see the case get moving again. “We were told a long time ago this is a marathon and just to take each day as it comes,” Kay said. The Woodcocks say they hope Vallow gets the full extent of the law, whatever that may be. “I just want whatever is given to her--if the death penalty is part of that, we accept it. If it’s life in prison, I accept that,” Larry said.
“They’re going to be in hell whether they’re in prison or they’re put to death. They’re going to be in hell, so there’s no escaping it,” Kay added. The Woodcocks say they’ll be in Idaho next week when Vallow appears in front of a judge to be arraigned. “I look forward to next week to sit behind Lori and Chad, and I want them to know that I’m breathing right behind them,” Larry said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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