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Jury begins deliberations in murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell

The state and the defense have left their lasting comments to sit with the jury.

BOISE, Idaho — Jury deliberations are underway in the murder trial of Lori Vallow, or Lori Vallow Daybell.

After six weeks and roughly 60 testifying witnesses, the case is nearing the end.

Lori Vallow is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft in connection to the deaths of two of her children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, as well as conspiracy in the death of her current husband's late wife, Tammy Daybell. She will not receive the death penalty, but could face up to life in prison if found guilty.

Judge Steven Boyce ruled Thursday morning against a motion by the defense to acquit Lori Vallow for lack of evidence.

In order to be found guilty of first-degree murder, the jury must determine Lori Vallow killed, commanded someone to kill and/or encouraged the killing of either or all Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell.

Courts and investigative reporter Alexandra Duggan is reporting from the Ada County Courthouse:

Live updates

Jury instruction

8:56 a.m.: Presiding Judge Steven Boyce said Thursday morning there is sufficient evidence to bring forth the case to the jury and he will deny the motion for acquittal for each of the seven counts. Lori Vallow will not be acquitted before a verdict.

The jury will be brought in for the judge to read the 39 jury instructions they must follow when deliberating.

9:00 a.m.: "Even if you don't understand the reasons for some of the rules, you are bound to follow them," Boyce tells the jury during their instruction. The jury must decide what the facts are based on the evidence and apply it to the law.

Arguments and statements by lawyers are not evidence, Boyce said. The jury must follow their memory or their notes they have taken throughout the trial.

Evidence from Arizona was admitted, but only to prove motive. Boyce tells the jury they cannot consider this outside the scope of motive. Other exhibits were provided only for demonstrative purposes, and also cannot be considered as evidence.

Boyce said that witnesses are considered evidence in a trial, but the jury is allowed to weigh their credibility from their statements and credentials.

9:13 a.m.: If any of the alleged acts, which are listed in the indictment, have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must find Lori Vallow not guilty. In order to find her guilty, the jury has to decide the state proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the crimes took place.

9:32 a.m.: The verdict must be anonymous and cannot be arrived at by compromise or by chance. Each juror has to arrive at this verdict based on weighing the evidence and credibility of the witnesses.

"You are not partisans or advocates. You are judges," Boyce said. 

Rob Wood will give the closing arguments on behalf of the prosecution.

The court takes a brief recess.

The State of Idaho

10:00 a.m.: Rob Wood of the prosecution begins his closing arguments.

"Beginning in october of 2018, Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell set in motion a series of events that led to three horrific murders in the state of Idaho," Wood said.

Wood starts with Tylee Ryan's death.

"Lori Vallow was responsible for Tylee’s health and safety, but instead of protecting her, Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell and Alex Cox conspired to murder her," he told the jury. "She had her whole life ahead of her."

Wood said Lori Vallow never reported her missing.

“Not only did she not report it, she lied to multiple people," he said. “She had to keep her body hidden so she could keep getting the money.”

Wood moves on to JJ Vallow. Pictures of his body are shown to the jury. Lori Vallow remains showing little emotion.

“JJ Vallow’s voice was silenced forever by a strip of duct tape placed over his mouth. The evidence shows he struggled, and we will never know how long he fought," Wood said. He tells the jury a young boy with special needs was murdered, suffocated and bound -- and that he was buried "like a piece of trash."

Wood tells the jury that Lori Vallow quickly married Chad Daybell after the death of Tammy Daybell, and it was no coincidence, he said.

"Lori was conveniently out of the state (when Tammy Daybell died). Those trips were not coincidences. There was money to be gained from Tammy's death. $430,000 of life insurance. She wasted no time making sure she could benefit from that money," Wood said.

On Nov. 5, 2019, Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were married.

“They were dancing on a beach in Hawaii, free form the obstacles that were Tylee, JJ and Tammy," Wood said.

Wood tells the jury the state has met its burden for each of the overt acts. The jury only needs to find guilt of one, he said.

"Did Lori aid, abet, advise or council those murders? She encouraged that murder. You all answered that question: If someone aided or abetted, you can still find them guilty," Wood told the jury. He said maybe the jury doesn't know who killed Tylee Ryan, Tammy Daybell or JJ Vallow. "But did she encourage it?" he asks them.

Reasonable doubt is not something people make up, Wood said.

"If you go back and deliberate... Use your reason and your common sense. Malice... Follow the instructions. Malice can be expressed, where someone says they want it to happen. It can be implied. You will find expressed and implied malice... Any person who aids and abets, facilitates or promotes a crime to happen is just as guilty as anyone else involved. Aiding and abetting is just the same as pulling the trigger," Wood said.

10:30 a.m.: Wood discusses the timeline and evidence that the state believes ties Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell and Alex Cox to the crimes.

Wood said Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow endorsed religious beliefs for the purpose of justifying Tammy Daybell's homicide.

“The day Tammy Daybell is buried, what is Lori doing? Looking up wedding dresses," Wood said.

He also said texts between the three alleged conspirators, the burner phones, the Google searches on all the iCloud accounts tie the timeline together. Wood brings up the text Chad Daybell sent his wife on Sept. 9, 2019 about "burning limbs" and burying a raccoon in the pet cemetery of the backyard.

"He was showing us where Tylee Ryan was buried," Wood said.

10:36 a.m.: Lori Vallow used a religious belief to justify her son's death, Wood told the jury.

David Warwick testified previously Lori Vallow told him her son was with her brother, Alex Cox on the night JJ Vallow was last seen. 

A 38 second phone call the morning of Sept 23, 2019 from Chad Daybell to Cox takes place while Cox is in his apartment, around 9:25 a.m.

"By 9:45 Alex is on his way to Chad Daybell’s house, this time with JJ Vallow in tow," Wood said. "His grave was not dug in 17 minutes. This was planned. This was premeditated murder... Lori handed her boy off to Alex Cox."

10:50 a.m.: “Tylee, Tammy and JJ can't tell us what happened. But their bodies do," Wood said.

He reiterates the autopsies of the three -- Tylee Ryan was stabbed and dismembered, JJ Vallow was suffocated and Tammy Daybell was murdered by asphyxiation, he said. 

"It's about money, power and sex," Wood continued. 

Within a week of Charles Vallow's death, Lori Vallow was already talking about the life insurance she'd get, Wood said. Tylee Ryan collected social security benefits from her father's death.

"Lori Vallow changed the deposit on Tylee Ryan's account... She started putting that money into her own BBVA account... On Sept. 28, she made sure to get the money before she killed Tylee," Wood said. "JJ Vallow... He collected benefits... The first deposit, days later, JJ Vallow is dead and buried in Chad Daybell's backyard. She made sure to get the money first."

Wood said Lori Vallow had no right to take the money. The charge of grand theft includes theft of above $1,000. "If you find she collected more than this, you must find her guilty," Wood said.

11:00 a.m.: Wood said Lori Vallow was a master manipulator to people in her life, especially her brother, Alex Cox.

“Lori is the conduit of information to Alex… He believed all of it. Where did he get it? From Lori. Why does she give it to him? To justify murder," Wood said.

Wood reiterates the affair and sexual conversations between Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell.

"It's their plan to be together. To get rid of the obstacles," Wood said. "Lori never said, 'you know what, maybe we shouldn't kill my kids.'"

11:05 a.m.: Wood brings up a previous text from Chad Daybell to Lori Vallow: "I got the inspiration to go back to my original death percentages that helped us track Charles," the text said.

“Not me, us,” Wood said. “Tammy is very close. So after he’s talking about death percentages… He said Tammy is close. They are talking about murdering tammy.”

Wood asks the jury how Lori Vallow responded. He answers his own question: 

"She said, 'How is the percentage now, and what about JJ's too?' So on July 30, she's already planning for JJ to go the same way as Charles. To be murdered. She wants the children gone."

Lori Vallow "never said, maybe we shouldn't kill our own relatives," Wood said.

11:15 a.m.:  “Ladies and gentlemen. You have your instructions. You’re gonna go back and deliberate. Read them carefully. Consider all the evidence. Look at all the facts. Look at the timeline. Charles Vallow. Tylee Ryan. JJ. Tammy. All within a short time frame. Who could've killed those people?... Who had motive to kill those people? Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell," Wood said.

Wood tells the jury the only people who benefit from these deaths are Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell alone.

"Lori Vallow gets Tylee and JJ's money. She and Chad get Tammy’s money," Wood said.

Wood asks the jury what their common sense tells them. 

“She lied, and she lied, and she lied. And she kept collecting their money," Wood said. “There is no question. They were murdered.”

Justice for the victims requires a guilty verdict, Wood said.

He ends his closing argument: "You must convict her."

The defense

12:00 p.m.: Jim Archibald is conducting the defense's closing arguments.

He began going through Lori Vallow's life, how she was born in California, married young, had her son Colby Ryan.

Archibald said when Lori Vallow met Chad Daybell it was "a remarkable change."

“What the heck is going on? How can this be?... So fast forward a year, one year after meeting Chad, four people are dead. One of those deaths you don't consider as guilt for this case," he said.

He reiterates that the defense does not have to provide a case to prove innocence.

"You can't hold it against me. You can't hold it against her. Sometimes that just happens in a trial," Archibald said.  

12:10 p.m.: Archibald mentions the affair between the couple.

“So this case is about sex? You wanna have sex outside of marriage? Go for it. Happens every day," he said. Archibald claims that Charles Vallow made much more money than Chad Daybell, so it didn't make sense why the state claims this case is about money.

"Chad couldn't sell enough stupid books about the end of the world," Archibald said. "When you look at pictures of Chad and then look at Charles, was that a trade up or a trade down?"

Chad Daybell didn't even have power like the state claimed, Archibald said. He told the jury Chad Daybell could only convert six people to side with his beliefs out of the 144,000 the couple thought were going to be saved by Jesus Christ in the second coming.

Archibald said Lori Vallow was she's reading Chad Daybell's books during a vulnerable time in her life, and he was telling her she’s a goddess, so she "fell for it."

The day the children were discovered in Chad Daybell's backyard on June 9, 2020, Lori Vallow called him from jail. Archibald said at this point, "Lori does not know what’s in Chad’s backyard."

"She knows her kids are missing. She knows the kids aren't with her. She knows they’re safe and happy, whatever that means," he said.

12:20 p.m.: Archibald said the state has complete lack of proof Lori Vallow killed her children because she never explicitly said so. She never had a plan, Archibald said.

“Why hire a babysitter for JJ if you’re gonna kill your kid next week. Why do that? Because Lori didn’t have a plan. The state wants you to think this was Lori’s plan to kill her kids.”

Archibald said just before the family moved to Idaho, Lori Vallow listed the two children on her rental application for an apartment in Rexburg.

“If you're moving from Arizona to Idaho, why not drop off the kids somewhere else? Why tell everyone you have two kids?.. She didn’t have a plan. She wanted to be with chad, they were obviously having an affair… But there was no plan by Lori to kill her kids," Archibald said. “Did she lie about it ? Yeah, she did.”

But why was she lying? To protect Chad Daybell, Archibald said.

He told the jury that Chad Daybell manipulated her, "and people change" when religion is involved. "Common sense goes out the window," Archibald said.

Archibald mentions the hair belonging to Lori Vallow that found on the duct tape around the black bag that contained JJ Vallow's body.

"Is that a smoking gun? No, it's not," he told the jury. JJ Vallow's pajamas were in the body bag, along with a children's blanket, intermixed with decomposition fluid, Archibald pointed out.

"I would hope as parents your hair is somewhere on your kids' pajamas, their socks. That doesn't mean you're a killer," Archibald said.

12:30 p.m.:  Archibald continues to say there is a lack of evidence when it comes to Tammy Daybell's death. When her life insurance policy was increased, Chad Daybell was telling people that he had a vision she was going to die.

Archibald offers this as a reason her life insurance was increased.

“Her prophetic husband, who said 'dear wife, you're gonna die next year,' wouldn't that cause her to increase her life insurance? There’s no proof," he told the jury. 

Archibald said, "Chad is making stuff up as he goes." 

"You and I don't believe it... But some people do," he said. 

Archibald then goes into the possibilities of who could have caused the deaths of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.

"I'm guessing Chad and Alex, on Tylee. Did they prove Lori directed it? Of the 15,000 texts you have in evidence, show me one where it says, from Lori, 'So when are you killing Tylee?' Was it proven who killed JJ? No, but Alex and Chad were at his gravesite in Chad's backyard," he said.

Archibald said there is also no text of Lori Vallow asking "When are you killing Tylee?"

Archibald says Lori Vallow is a lover of Jesus Christ, and still wants to tell the whole world.

"Lori wants to tell you how much she loves Jesus. But is Lori a leader or follower of Chad? She so wants to be a leader. But she's following Chad. She thinks Chad is following Jesus. But he's being led by the storm," Archibald said.

12:45 p.m.: Archibald has choked up during his statement twice.

He said the "Jesus we know" is loving, caring and forgiving.

"That's the Jesus Lori believed in, until she met Chad Daybell," Archibald said.

He begins instructing the jury on how to interpret the law.

"No one here thinks Lori actually killed anyone. That's why she's being charged with conspiracy. So they want you to be convinced that she's part of this plan, that there's a specific plan to kill. If you find her guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope," Archibald said.

He tells the jury Lori Vallow spent her entire life protecting her children, and ends his argument.

The court takes a lunch break. The prosecution expects to make a rebuttal argument.

The rebuttal

1:45 p.m.: “Reason and common sense. The evidence in this case is clear. The evidence in this points to one common thread, and that is Lori Vallow. The defense said she’s not a killer. She is a killer," Prosecutor Rob Wood said during his rebuttal. "When Lori wants something she will find a way to get it."

The defense previously said Lori Vallow is a good mother.

Wood tells the jury, "Does a good mom, when the whole world is out looking for your kids, dance and laugh on a beach in Hawaii? No. Does a good mom abandon her children in the ground and go marry a recent widower? No."

Wood said Lori Vallow is a liar -- she lied to police, to family, to friends, to Colby Ryan, her son, Wood said.

"Lori lied to cover up her crimes, repeatedly... She knew where her children were," Wood said.

"When Lori said she knew exactly where JJ was, that might be the one thing you heard from her that's true," Wood said. "The innocent don't need to lie. The guilty lie."

Wood tells the jury the defense said Lori Vallow's hair was likely to be on JJ Vallow. But it wasn't on his body, Wood said -- it was around the black plastic bag that contained JJ Vallow's body.

"When Chad was telling Lori JJ was going into the light, we all know what that means," Wood said. "She doesn't say, 'let's not kill kids,' she said 'that is sweet.'"

He tells the jury she is encouraging, aiding, abetting -- hold her own words against her, Wood said. 

2:00 p.m: "Let's talk again about what you need to find," Wood said. "What you need to ask -- did Lori agree to commit the crimes against Tylee? Yes she did... Did she intend for these children to die? Yes... It makes no sense to say that she's a good mom when she's not reporting the death of her children or that they're missing. She intended the death... You have the evidence. You must convict her," Wood said. "Did she engage in conduct to cause the death of Tylee Ryan? Yes. The same applies to JJ. The same applies to Tammy."

Wood reiterates that Tylee Ryan was dismembered and burned. "She will never get to grow up," Wood said. "JJ, a boy with special needs, had a plastic bag over his head and had to fight for his life. Make it count for Tammy Daybell. She had to die so Lori could be with Chad Daybell... Again, reason and common sense."

Wood calls Lori Vallow a killer. Her behavior is not that of a mother who cares for her children, he said.

"Justice for these victims requires a conviction... Ladies and gentlemen, reason and common sense. You must convict her," Wood said.

He ends his rebuttal.

2:05 p.m.: The six juror alternates are excused after their numbers were drawn at random. They are still not allowed to read or consume any material about the case for preparation if a juror must leave during deliberations.

The clerk swears in two bailiffs to monitor the jury during their discussions.

2:13 p.m.: The jury is led into a private room to begin deliberations.

Court is adjourned until the jury reaches a verdict.

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