ST. ANTHONY — A judge will issue a written order soon on whether Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial should be delayed to coincide with her husband’s.
During a hearing Thursday, prosecutors asked Judge Steven Boyce to continue the trial from October to January so Lori Daybell can be tried with Chad Daybell. The cases are currently conjoined but Lori did not waive her right to a speedy trial last month and legally must be tried within six months of arraignment.
Lori appeared for the hearing via Zoom from the Madison County Jail but did not say anything. Chad was not in attendance.
Witnesses and evidence in both trials are the same and it will be more cost-effective to hold them together as proceedings are expected to last ten weeks, according to prosecutors. Postponing Lori’s trial will also give both the prosecution and defense more time to prepare.
“There is a mountain of evidence to review in this case and mitigation experts require significant time to prepare argument,” Madison County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tawnya Rawlings said. “A number of outstanding issues, including DNA testing of certain evidence, was put off until the cases were brought together again and we think it’s more equitable to continue to the January date.”
During the hearing, Prior said his preference is to maintain the January court date originally set for his client.
In court filings last week, Lori Daybell’s defense attorneys wrote that her mental health is “extremely complex and fragile” and while she does not want to waive her right to a speedy trial, Daybell understands a postponement “will give her defense team more time to get ready.”
“We talk to Mrs. Daybell frequently and as recently as yesterday she acknowledged that she still has her right to a speedy trial and she is not going to waive that right,” defense attorney Jim Archibald said Thursday. “We will be respectful of the court’s decision whether it’s an October trial setting or not…Her defense team is spending a lot of time getting caught up since the state’s been involved in this case for over two years…but her defense team has not.”
Boyce said he will issue a written decision soon as “important constitutional and statutory rights” are a key factor in the matter.
Chad and Lori Daybell are charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for 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. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in both cases.