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Grandmother ‘relieved’ after judge denies request to separate Daybell cases

Daybell Case

ST. ANTHONY — JJ Vallow’s grandmother says she’s “relieved” after learning the murder trial for Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell will be held together after a judge rejected a request to separate the cases.

In a memorandum filed Monday, District Judge Steven Boyce denied John Prior’s motion to sever the trials. Prior is Chad Daybell’s attorney and argued during a hearing Friday that his client would not be given a fair and impartial trial if his proceedings were not separated from Lori Vallow Daybell’s.

RELATED | Hearing held over whether to separate Daybell murder cases

Chad and Lori Daybell are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder 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. The Daybells were both indicted at the same time, and the cases have been connected.

Lori Daybell’s case has been on hold since June, as she was declared incompetent for trial, and Prior argued Friday that her uncertain status affects his defense strategy.

Judge Boyce
District Judge Steven Boyce

“Defendant’s main argument centers on his contention that ‘uncertainty’ will result due to co-defendant Vallow’s status and the stay in effect in her case,” Boyce wrote in the eight-page memo. “While the court does not dispute there may be an additional burden on the defense presented by an inability to know at this time whether co-defendant Vallow will be fit for trial when the trial begins, that ‘uncertainty’ in preparing for trial is not a determinative factor for the court to consider in reviewing Idaho Criminal Rule 14 (Relief from Prejudicial Joinder) or the cases interpreting it.”

Boyce wrote that having the trials together will be efficient, economic and avoid possible inconsistent verdicts. He said his decision should “in no way be construed as a stay on this case pending the competency determination” of Lori Daybell and noted the trial will proceed as scheduled in Ada County on Jan. 9, 2023.

Kay Woodcock, JJ’s grandmother, says she is happy with the decision.

“I am so relieved! Having the cases joined will save us from more emotional torture,” she told EastIdahoNews.com. “We have already been through enough anguish from this evil duo. They’ll be staring at each other in court feeling miserable they can’t touch.”

Prior has also filed a motion to have the indictment and death penalty against Chad Daybell dismissed. A hearing on those issues is scheduled for Wednesday. A scheduling conference in Lori Daybell’s case was held Monday afternoon, but proceedings were sealed and closed to the public.

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