Now that she’s competent, what’s next for Lori Vallow Daybell?
ST. ANTHONY — Lori Vallow Daybell will be making her way back to eastern Idaho in the coming days as proceedings in her murder trial are set to begin.
Daybell has been at an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare facility in northern Idaho for 10 months since she was declared incompetent to stand trial. Earlier this week, District Judge Steven Boyce issued an order saying she is now fit to proceed and the stay, or pause, in her case has been lifted.
Officials remain tight-lipped as to how Daybell will be transported back to eastern Idaho. When she arrives, she will be housed in the Madison County Jail, where female inmates from Fremont County stay. Daybell stayed in this jail from March 2020 until June 2021, when she was declared incompetent.
Daybell is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Fremont County Courthouse. The hearing should be relatively short, and she will plead guilty or not guilty to the following crimes:
- First-degree murder in the death of Tylee Ryan
- First-degree murder in the death of JJ Vallow
- First-degree murder in the death of her current husband Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception in the death of Tylee Ryan
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception in the death of JJ Vallow
- Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell
- Grand theft related to Social Security survivor benefits over $1,000 allocated for the care of minors Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow that were appropriated after the children were missing and ultimately found deceased.
Following the arraignment, Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake and Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood have 60 days to declare if they intend to seek the death penalty against Daybell.
“That written notice has to list the aggravating factors that they would be using to seek the death penalty,” says Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Alayne Bean, who is not associated with the Daybell case. “You can remove it or change it (the death penalty notice) once it’s filed, but you can’t start it at 61 days with something you didn’t think of and didn’t file the written notice.”
WATCH OUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH ALAYNE BEAN IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE
Daybell is represented by Jim Archibald, a public defender who is death-penalty certified. He has been the defense attorney in several high-profile cases, including Brian Dripps, who raped and killed Angie Dodge; and Erik Ohlson, who killed Jennifer Nalley and her unborn baby.
Within the coming weeks, additional attorneys will likely be appointed to help Archibald with his defense.
“The jury has to find guilt on the charge, and then they go into a whole different process to evaluate the death penalty (if the death penalty is on the table),” Bean says. “You’d actually have a break (after the verdict), and the defense can bring in expert testimony about why the jury shouldn’t do the death penalty. The state would have the opportunity to counter that mitigation expert.”
If Daybell is found guilty and does not receive the death penalty, a judge will issue her sentence, but it will be several weeks after the jury’s verdict. An in-depth pre-sentence report will be compiled and given to prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge.
“That is a packet that tells a lot of information about a defendant,” Bean says. “It will talk about their childhood. It will talk about their education. It will talk about their job history, their family history, substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and it’ll give them a score called a ‘level of service’ index – low, medium or high risk to re-offend.”
Police reports, witness statements, letters of support and other items are included in the pre-sentence report. The judge uses the information to determine a sentence.
Although Daybell has been declared competent, it’s possible she could “decompensate” – or become unfit for trial again. Bean has seen this happen with inmates diagnosed with schizophrenia. They are deemed incompetent, sent to receive care with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and they often become well with medication and treatment.
“If that person then, for whatever reason, doesn’t take their medication or maintain counseling, they could decompensate,” Bean says. “They could find themselves in a situation where they need restoration again because of various factors. It can happen particularly with different diagnoses if the medication is very crucial and is not being taken.”
If Daybell pleads guilty during her arraignment Tuesday, she will forego a trial, and a sentencing date will be set. A plea agreement is also a possibility until the day of the trial – or even once it starts – if prosecutors and defense attorneys, along with the judge, find terms acceptable.
Daybell’s 10-week trial is scheduled to be held with Chad Daybell’s in Ada County starting in January 2023.
In Arizona, Lori Daybell is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the death of her previous husband Charles Vallow. That case will be tried after the one in Idaho.