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Lori Vallow's lawyer seeks to dismiss case for lack of speedy trial

A hearing on the motion to dismiss and three other motions filed Thursday is set for Feb. 9 in Fremont County.

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — Story updated Friday, Feb. 3, to include prosecutors' response to Vallow's motion to dismiss. The response from prosecutors -- or "the state" -- is not a decision on the motion. A judge will determine that after a hearing on Feb. 9.

Attorneys for Lori Vallow, aka Lori Vallow Daybell, are asking an Idaho judge to dismiss the murder case against her.

In a motion filed the morning of Jan. 26 in Fremont County, Vallow's attorneys argue that the government has "not met its burden" to uphold her constitutional right to a speedy trial, a right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution. A hearing on that motion and three others is set for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 with Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce in St. Anthony.

Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, are currently scheduled to stand trial starting April 3 on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and Chad Daybell's late wife, Tammy Daybell. Prosecutors have filed notice to seek the death penalty. The trial is set to take place in Ada County under a change-of-venue order.

The couple was indicted in May 2021. Lori Vallow's district court arraignment did not take place until April 19, 2022, because she was found mentally unfit and the proceedings against her had been put on hold.

Chad Daybell waived his right to a speedy trial, but Lori Vallow did not. Under Idaho law, her trial would have had to begin in October 2022, within six months of the district court arraignment. However, the court in August found good cause to postpone the trial until January 2023; it was rescheduled again, this time for April, after a second finding of incompetence led to another stay in Vallow's case, which was lifted in mid-November.

In the motion filed Jan. 26, Vallow's attorneys note that 349 days will have passed from her district court arraignment on April 19, 2022, to April 3, 2023, the day the trial is set to begin.

"A 40-day delay caused by the competency review still doesn't justify a trial setting three years after her arrest and almost one year after her arraignment," Vallow's attorneys say in the motion to dismiss.

Vallow has been incarcerated for a total of 1,169 days since February 2020, when she was arrested in Hawaii on charges that have since been superseded by the indictment on murder charges.

"She is prejudiced every day since she’s in jail and unable to post a bond," the motion states, in part. "The Court has repeatedly reminded the government that it will respect her constitutional right to a speedy trial. The government cannot show 'good cause' to bring Lori Vallow Daybell to trial over three years from her arrest and almost one year from her arraignment. This Court should find that the government has not met its burden to uphold her constitutional rights."

On Feb. 2, one week after Vallow's motion to dismiss was filed, Rob Wood and Lindsey Blake with the Office of the Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney filed an objection to that motion. They note that Vallow's February 2020 arrest in Hawai'i was on different charges, and that the "triggering event" for analyzing Vallow's speedy trial rights is instead her April 19, 2022, district court arraignment on the murder charges. They note the court has already "found good cause" to postpone the trial, and argue that the basis of that finding has not changed. They also note that Vallow filed a motion for a change of venue in June 2021, a motion the court granted, moving the trial to Ada County.

"So, adding 44 days beyond the statutory time period, and allowing the Court to make necessary arrangements to try the matter in another jurisdiction hundreds of miles from the originating county, at the request of the defendant, with a case of this complexity is reasonable," the prosecutors write in their objection to Vallow's motion.

In addition to the motion to dismiss, the Feb. 9 hearing will address two motions related to jury selection and another relating to disclosure of penalty phase information.

Vallow and Chad Daybell are set to be tried together, but Daybell's attorney has filed another motion to sever the case and have them tried separately. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for 9 a.m., also on Feb. 9.

Watch more on the trial of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell:

See all of the latest coverage in our YouTube playlist:

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