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Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow won't have separate trials, Idaho judge rules

Daybell's attorney had argued that the case should be severed because of "uncertainty" about the status of Lori Vallow's case.
Credit: Fremont County Court (via Zoom)

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell, the Eastern Idaho couple accused of murdering Vallow's two children in September of 2019, are scheduled to stand trial in January 2023, and they won't be tried separately, a judge decided this week.

Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce, in Fremont County, on Monday denied Chad Daybell's motion to sever the case and hold separate trials.

As of Tuesday, the trial is set to take place in Ada County, about 300 miles away from Fremont County, under a change of venue order.

In a hearing held Friday, March 18, on the motion to sever the trials, Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake argued that the cases of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell be tried together to save money, time and other resources.

Also, Blake said, victims and witnesses would not need to "repeat the inconvenience and, sometimes, trauma of testifying, and randomly favoring the last tried defendants who have the advantage of knowing the prosecution's case beforehand." 

Daybell's attorney John Prior said the primary issue is the mental capacity of Lori Vallow, who a judge in May 2021 ruled was not mentally fit to stand trial. She continues to be treated and evaluated in a state-run facility, and a stay on Vallow's case remains in place because of the ruling on mental competence. Because of that stay, and because Vallow's status has not changed for several months, Prior said, "uncertainty" remained about the case going to trial in January.

"We need to have some sort of certainty, just like some of the other motions coming up. We need to know how we're going to be handling this case, and we need to know relatively quickly," Prior said.

The denial of the request for separate trials comes as other motions are still pending. The Idaho court repository indicates a hearing is set for Wednesday on a motion to dismiss Daybell's case. A motion to reconsider the court's order to move the trial to Ada County is up for a hearing in April.

Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty.

Watch more on the case of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan:

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