Lori Daybell’s attorney says she’s being ‘manipulated’ and reached out to LDS Church attorneys
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ST. ANTHONY — Lori Vallow Daybell’s defense attorney Mark Means says his client and the court system are being manipulated by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare workers.
In a motion filed Wednesday, Means says he spoke with Daybell on Oct. 15 and that the conversation raised concerns regarding “unethical and possibly illegal activity, discussions, disclosure, and manipulation of the incompetent defendant.”
Since June, Daybell has been committed to the Department of Health and Welfare after a mental health professional said she was not competent to assist in her defense or stand trial. District Judge Steven Boyce issued the order of commitment and details surrounding her commitment continue to be sealed.
In the court filing, Means claims Daybell conversed with a clinician he believed was employed by IDHW. On Oct. 5, the clinician and Daybell watched the change of venue hearing for her husband Chad Daybell. While watching the hearing, Means claims the clinician recommended Daybell contact attorneys with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City and possibly obtain legal counsel other than a state-appointed public defender.
“(The clinician) took the ‘recommendation’ further and then provided defendant with the direct telephone number to contact the LDS church counsel and issued an ‘order’ that this was part of the defendant’s ‘homework’ for her treatment,” Means wrote.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr told EastIdahoNews.com that the department will follow standard procedures when there are allegations of possible employee misconduct.
“However, such investigations are confidential because they are an employee matter,” Forbing-Orr said.
Daybell reportedly called Church headquarters, where Means says she was connected with attorney Daniel McConkie. Daybell apparently discussed her case with McConkie “under the guise that the ‘church’ was her friend and was there to assist her in both temporal and spiritual matters,” Means wrote in court filings.
After this conversation, Means says McConkie called Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood and disclosed the statements Daybell made during the phone call. Wood then contacted public defender Jim Archibald, who Boyce appointed as Means’ co-counsel on the case in August. Wood told Archibald that Daybell told McConkie she wants “a new, not state-appointed attorney,” according to Means.
“Again, Defendant has a publicly well-documented obsession with the LDS Church/Corporation and her controlling belief of its divine origins and truth in religious matters – to the point that the LDS Church and its legal counsel and the like can control and manipulate the court system, judges, prosecution and the like in this very case,” Means wrote.
EastIdahoNews.com has reached out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the claims and will update this article if they respond.
“On Oct. 6, 2021, Kirton McConkie received an unsolicited call from Lori Daybell seeking assistance,” Robert D. Walker President, President of Kirton McConkie said in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “Kirton McConkie informed Mrs. Daybell that it could not provide advice or representation and directed her to the State Bar of Idaho or the court if she needed assistance in finding an attorney. Subsequent calls with her counsel and the prosecutor confirmed the unsolicited contact.”
Means is asking that prosecutors disclose all communications between them, Church officials and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Means also wants criminal depositions and subpoenas for those he says are involved in the situation.
He also wants the clinician and any other IDHW employees disqualified from treating or having any involvement with Daybell.
“Defendant hereby objects to any attempt by the State/Prosecution to seal this matter as it should be resolved in a public forum,” Means concluded in the court filing.
The state disagrees. Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake and Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood issued the following joint statement on Thursday.
“The State will continue to focus on pursuing justice on behalf of the victims. We will address the unfounded claims by one of Ms. Daybell’s defense attorneys in a court of law — not in the media,” the statement reads.
“Filings of this nature are traditionally sealed and handled in confidential proceedings. Litigating such matters publicly can compromise both parties’ right to a fair trial and compromise various individuals’ rights to privacy. The mental health issues and investigations are not suited for the court of public opinion.”
Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are charged with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. The charges are in relation to the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.
Chad’s trial is expected to take place next year in Ada County after Boyce ruled that a change of venue was needed. The Idaho Supreme Court approved the move this month.
Lori’s case remains on hold because of her commitment to the Department of Health and Welfare.