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Vallow-Daybell case: Judge to hear death penalty challenge, other motions Thursday

Prosecutors in the murder case against Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell say they have sufficient evidence to prove that the death penalty is warranted.

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — Prosecutors in the murder case against Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell say they have sufficient evidence to prove that the death penalty is warranted -- calling the facts in the case, "egregious and heinous."

That's one of the prosecution's responses to defense motions in the case of the eastern Idaho couple charged with murder and conspiracy to commit the murders of two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and Chad Daybell's late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Lori Vallow's motion to declare her "not death eligible" will get a hearing on Thursday, along with a motion asking the court to allow the two defendants to meet face-to-face, with their lawyers present, to talk about their options. Also up for a hearing Thursday is whether the jury should be sequestered during the trial, which is currently scheduled to begin April 3 in Ada County. The motion hearing will take place with Seventh District Judge Steven Boyce in Fremont County, where the case originated, but the trial scheduled for April is being moved out of eastern Idaho under a change of venue Boyce granted in October 2021.

In documents filed Thursday, Jan. 12, the prosecution objected to Vallow's request to speak to Daybell ahead of trial because they have concerns about safety and protecting the privilege of the case.

Vallow's attorney previously asked the court to scrap the death penalty after filing a motion to have a judge declare it unconstitutional, as well as not having enough to prove the death penalty was even warranted.

Prosecutors filed an objection to this on Jan. 12, saying they have enough evidence to prove the death penalty is needed in this case.

"The evidence the State will introduce at trial, some of which a grand jury has already reviewed, will establish that the Defendant intended for her children and her boyfriend’s wife to die, and that she affirmatively acted to make those deaths happen," court records say. In other filings, the state said they will be sending more DNA -- "recently discovered hair samples" -- to the Idaho State Lab for further testing to create a profile.

Vallow also previously asked the court if she could speak to her husband to discuss the case ahead of trial. Attorneys would be there to mediate, but the state claims this raises serious concerns over protecting the integrity of the case as well as forms some major safety issues given the "nature of the charges" pending against the couple.

"Having the other Defendant and/or his/her counsel present would make them potential witnesses of statements made by the other Defendant and eliminate any claim to attorney/client privilege," the filing said. Prosecutors also argue that there is no "inherent right" for the couple to meet and discuss the case.

A hearing on the motions is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony. The judge's decision on each motion may come at the conclusion of the hearing or may come in writing at a later date.

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