ST. ANTHONY — A motion hearing was held Thursday to determine whether or not cameras will continue to be allowed during court proceedings for Lori Vallow Daybell.
Daybell’s attorneys, Jim Archibald and John Thomas, filed a motion last month to ban cameras from the courtroom in future court proceedings, including Daybell’s trial, which is set to begin in January. Prosecutors Rob Wood and Lindsey Blake filed a response to the motion in support of the camera ban.
Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are facing multiple counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan – two of Lori Daybell’s kids – along with Chad’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell.
Lori Daybell appeared in court Thursday wearing a pink blouse and tall black heels, with freshly curled hair. Entering the courtroom, Daybell was seen smiling but became noticeably more tame with her emotions and facial expressions than in a hearing last month.
Following that hearing, her defense team filed the motion to ban cameras.
Archibald argued that by allowing cameras in the courtroom, his client will have to “prove her innocence instead of the state having to prove her guilty.”
The defense and prosecution noted while they believe in the constitutional right to the freedom of the press, they “don’t believe it includes broadcast.”
“We let the media police themselves, and what did they do? They put microphones on our tables and cameras right in front of our faces,” said Archibald, referring to the August hearing where two cameras were used and microphones were placed on tables.
Both sides stated the “incessant media exposure” is impeding on Lori Daybell’s right to a fair trial.
“Thirty minutes (of the broadcast) was zoomed in on my client – what was the purpose?” said Archibald. “She didn’t make an argument. All she did was whisper to her lawyers. There was no point.”
EastIdahoNews.com and 32 other local, state and national media agencies joined in opposing the motion.
Steve Wright, the attorney for the media, argued the news organizations followed a court order during the last hearing and did not take any unauthorized steps while recording and broadcasting.
“It is regrettable that counsel feels misled that they didn’t notice the microphones, but they were approved first and foremost, along with the cameras,” said Wright. “There is a significant difference in telling this court that this courtroom should be open, but only to people who physically want to come and sit in the courtroom, because if its broadcast to other people, her rights are now jeopardized.”
Boyce interrupted Wright to disagree, saying, “At some point, if there is so much saturation that it presents a presumption of guilt, I think that’s entirely possible in that case, and I’ll tell you, I’m quite concerned in that happening here.”
Boyce also noted that he does not know the members of the media, who they’re employed by or who pays them, so he cannot personally guarantee that they will always follow the rules, although there have been no circumstances thus far where media has not followed any courtroom protocol in this case.
Wright said that pretrial publicity was not going away,and the motion was “an inappropriately extreme response to actions that were approved by the court.”
Boyce ended his conversation with Wright by stating, “I’m very concerned that this goes beyond access – that this goes to creating a financial enterprise that revolves around this case.”
The judge did not immediately make a ruling and said a written decision will be forthcoming.
Woodcock’s respond to hearing
After the hearing, Larry Woodcock, JJ Vallow’s grandfather, told EastIdahoNews.com he doesn’t want cameras banned from the courtroom.
“To me, the issue is not the cameras or audio, the issue is Lori playing to the camera,” says Woodcock. “Absolutely, cameras should remain. I want my family and our friends and the people that follow us worldwide — they deserve to know what’s going on.”
A bigger concern to the Woodcocks is that JJ and Tylee’s bodies have still not been released by officials.
“All I want to do is bury the kids. I mean, come on — it’s been three years,” says Woodcook. “JJ is in a vault. He’s in a freezer. Judge, let us have them so we can bury them.”
In addition to the motion to ban cameras, two other motions were discussed, one which would allow Daybell to appear in court in “street clothes.”
Although she has appeared in street clothes in previous hearings, according to her attorneys, it was never in writing.
Her attorney’s argued that having her appear in street clothes helps with her right to a fair trial. The prosecution had no opposition, and Boyce granted the motion.
Another motion was filed in July to incorporate state and federal constitution grounds in support of future motions for Lori Daybell.
Her attorneys argued that all of her constitutional arguments need to be preserved in case the jury eventually comes back with a guilty verdict and she is sentenced to the death penalty, which could remain in litigation for decades.