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Lori Vallow's defense asking if it's prudent to seek the death penalty

Three motions were filed July 12 asking for the indictment to be returned the grand jury for more hearings.

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — Lori Vallow's defense team has filed recent motions asking the court to take a more in-depth look into the factors regarding the death penalty being sought against her, where they are trying to request a grand jury make the call on the death penalty rather than the prosecution.

Vallow will face trial in January 2023 in Boise with her husband Chad Daybell for allegedly murdering Daybell's ex-wife, Tammy, and Vallow's two children, JJ and Tylee. Vallow remained silent during her plea entry earlier this year, prompting an entry of a "not guilty" plea.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty due to what they call "aggravating circumstances" that contribute to the nature of the alleged crimes. A notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the case was filed on May 2.

Each motion from the defense was filed on July 12. It is up to the judge to rule on these motions.

Motion to remand to grand jury for probable cause determination as to alleged aggravating factors

In this motion, the defense is asking that the indictment the grand jury returned on May 24 be sent back to hold a hearing on the aggravating factors that are the backbone of the prosecution's reasoning for seeking the death penalty.

"Aggravating factors" in certain cases are circumstances surrounding a possible crime that can make it more severe or heinous in nature. 

The defense mentioned the prosecution's list of those factors they believe contributed to the alleged crimes:

  • Murders were committed for remuneration, or money.
  • Murders were especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.
  • That the defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life.
  • That the defendant exhibited propensity to commit murder which constitutes a continuing threat to society.

"Just as Mrs. Daybell is entitled to a grand jury finding of probable cause on what charges are brought against her, she is likewise entitled to a grand jury finding of probable cause on each alleged statutory aggravating factor," the defense said in the motion. 

The defense also said that a defendant in Idaho is not eligible for a death sentence post-conviction, but rather must be sought in pre-trial. If the aggravating factors can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the grand jury can consider the death sentence. If these factors are not proven, the defendant cannot be subject to the death penalty, the defense said.

In the motion, the defense also questions if some of the aggravating factors the prosecution is implying can even be applied due to Vallow's "mental health issues." Vallow remained in a mental health facility until she was found mentally competent to stand trial on April 11.

RELATED: Lori Vallow transferred to eastern Idaho jail from mental health facility

Motion to remand indictment to the grand jury for further proceedings

The defense in this motion requests that the original indictment be returned to the grand jury on their beliefs that the charges against Vallow were "lumped" together and made unclear, as well as "severing" parts of the charges against her.

The motion says that each count is a separate indictment but the allegations "allege the single crime" making it more confusing for the jury.

The defense would like to strike counts one and three of the indictment: conspiracy to commit first degree murder and grand theft by deception as to Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.

"The Defendant sees each of these as two separate allegations and two separate acts which, if proven, caused two separate crimes," the motion said.

The defense would like more clarity on the charges, because they argue that it's confusing if the grand jury is alleging deception during the murder or if they are two separate incidents.

If they are not separate, the defense would like to sever those charges or alternatively strike the language for grand theft or first degree murder in each count.

Motion to incorporate federal and state constitutional grounds in support of future motions and objections

In this motion, the defense lists out certain objections and cases they want incorporated into the trial as to not "frustrate the jury" with needless objections and sidebars.

The defense cites Vallow is relying upon the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S Constitution.

They go on to list 73 rulings in the motion that they request be applied to the proceedings of Vallow's case.

"(Vallow) asserts a continuing objection through trial with regard to all matters upon which the Court has ruled adversely to her in response to pretrial motions," the defense said in the document.

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

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