Judge issues ruling on whether Woodcocks, other family members can attend trial - East Idaho News
Daybell Case

Judge issues ruling on whether Woodcocks, other family members can attend trial

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Kay and Larry Woodcock | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BOISE — Kay Woodcock, Summer Shiflet and Colby Ryan will be able to attend the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell while other witnesses are testifying but Larry Woodcock cannot, according to a ruling issued Thursday morning by District Judge Steven Boyce.

The Woodcocks, Shiflet and Ryan are listed as witnesses in the case, and Idaho law prohibits witnesses from observing other testimony during trials. But legally-defined victims who are immediate family members are exempt and can be permitted to listen to other witnesses.

Ryan, Daybell’s son, is JJ and Tylee’s brother, so Boyce said he can attend the trial as their representative. Shiflet, Daybell’s sister, is allowed into the trial as Tylee’s representative because her adoptive father, Charles Vallow, is dead and her mother is the defendant.

JJ was born to Kay Woodcock’s son, but the Woodcocks legally took care of him for nearly a year before Lori and Charles, Kay’s brother, adopted him; thus, Kay Woodcock is JJ’s paternal grandmother and aunt.

Idaho law defines immediate family members as “parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, wife, sister, brother, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or a son or daughter,” according to Boyce’s ruling.

“In Idaho, Kay Woodcock does not meet the legal definition of ‘immediate family member’ of any of the victims but Charles Vallow does,” Boyce wrote. “The record reflects that Charles Vallow is deceased. Kay Woodcock is the biological sister to Charles Vallow. Accordingly, the court has authority to ‘designate a representative from the immediate family to exercise these rights on behalf of a deceased, incapacitated, or minor victim’ when a member of the immediate family is unable to fulfill that role…The court finds it wholly appropriate to designate Kay Woodcock the representative for victim Joshua Jaxon Vallow in Charles Vallow’s stead.”

Boyce noted that Larry Woodcock “does not meet the legal definition of ‘immediate family member’ in relation to any of victims” and can not witness any witness testimony prior to him taking the stand.

“He may however observe all proceedings where testimony is not being offered, and upon the completion of his testimony, he would be permitted to observe the remainder of the trial,” Boyce wrote.”The State has the means to order its testifying witnesses however it sees fit. Should the state wish to call Larry Woodcock early in its case-in-chief, that is entirely the prerogative of the State.”

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The issue of the Woodcocks’ trial attendance was brought up in a hearing last week. Prosecutors argued the Woodcocks should be considered immediate family members and are victims in the case. Defense attorneys disagreed and asked the grandparents not to be allowed in court proceedings.

The Woodcocks hired attorney Shanon Gray to fight for access to the trial. He wrote in a court-filed memo that “it is clear the Woodcocks are victims in this case and have been given rights under the Idaho Constitution” to attend the trial for the woman accused of murdering their grandson.

Jury selection in the Daybell case is expected to wrap up Thursday. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday morning.

You can read the judge’s entire ruling here.