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Prosecution, defense rest in Lori Vallow Daybell murder trial

The defense does not believe the state proved its case against Lori Vallow. Closing arguments begin Thursday.

BOISE, Idaho — The State of Idaho has rested their case -- or finished presenting evidence -- in the murder trial against Lori Vallow, or Lori Vallow Daybell. The defense has also rested -- there will be no evidence or witnesses presented on their behalf.

Closing arguments will take place Thursday morning. After that, jury deliberations begin.

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 the death of her current husband's late wife, Tammy Daybell. On Monday, the jury heard lengthy testimony from former FBI Special Agent Doug Hart, who testified to the numerous texts between Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell about "a plan to take the children."

She will no longer face the death penalty, however she could be sentenced to up to life in prison.

There are no cameras allowed in the courtroom, but KTVB investigative and courts reporter Alexandra Duggan is there:

Live updates

2:30 p.m.: The defense does not believe that the state proved its case.

They rest. The defense will call no witnesses or show any evidence.

Closing arguments will begin Thursday morning.

1:41 p.m.: The defense asks the judge to rule on a motion of acquittal.

Idaho Criminal Rule 29 allows the court to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring forth the case to the jury for a verdict. 

Defense attorney Jim Archibald asks Judge Steven Boyce to review the evidence and compare it to each count. Archibald asks for a break while the court can review the evidence and meet with his client  on whether or not they will proceed with a defense. And likely, whether Lori Vallow wants to testify.

Boyce will make a ruling on the acquittal motion this afternoon as it is under advisement.

1:38 p.m.: The state rests their case.

1:32 p.m.: Judge Steven Boyce permits the amendments to the indictment. He does not believe that this prejudices Lori Vallow in any way.

1:20 p.m.: The defense argues they had asked to change the indictment two years ago, but were denied.

Jim Archibald claims they are different charges, not a mere clerical error. "What's happened here, the grand jury indicted her on the wrong code section." He told Judge Steven Boyce that Lori Vallow has not made a plea regarding theft by deception, only deprivation.

"The state made a fatal error," Archibald said.

Under Idaho law, the court can amend the indictment before the state rests as long as it doesn't prejudice the defendant.

1:18 p.m.: Prosecutors and defense are back from lunch. They take a brief recess to fix a clerical error in the grand jury indictment against Lori Vallow.

The state had marked "theft by deprivation" under Idaho code rather than "theft by deception" in the grand theft charges against her. They also are changing the word "months" to "month."

The prosecution says this doesn't change the grand theft charge.

Judge Steven Boyce said the timing on this was "unbelievable." The state had two years working the case to notice this, he told them.

11:40 a.m.: The court takes a lunch break. 

11:20 p.m. John Thomas, Lori Vallow's defense attorney, asks Edwards in cross-examination if he knows what some of the content of the texts between Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell and Alex Cox during the attempted shooting and death of Tammy Daybell said.

Edwards said he wasn't able to locate some of the content in those messages. Thomas asks if they could be about "any number of things." Edwards says yes.

11:15 a.m.: Edwards was also on scene the day JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found on Chad Daybell's property on June 9, 2020.

Edwards said he began searching with other investigators to clear tall grass, and pulled layers of vegetation back with the FBI forensic team. They got through the soil, through the rocks, through planks of wood that were laid down and eventually reached the "shape of a head" that was wrapped in a black plastic bag. The forensic team cut open the bag and saw blonde hair.

This was later confirmed to be the body of 7-year-old JJ Vallow.

"It exposed a flood of emotions that we found him...Thoughts of my own son, who is the same age," Edwards said. He chokes up slightly.

11:10 a.m.: Texts shown to the jury between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow presented on Monday are being read into the record again by Edwards. They take place the day after Tammy Daybell died.

The texts discuss being together, how much the couple misses each other, etc.

Chad Daybell texts her, "I feel sad, but not for the reason everyone thinks."

"Eagerly anticipating our alone time," he texts her, the day after his wife's funeral.

Edwards reiterates that Tammy Daybell had two life insurance policies that were paid out to Chad Daybell.

11:00 a.m.: There were multiple texts between Alex Cox, Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow, just hours before Tammy Daybell was presumed to have died by the Fremont County Coroner, a cell phone timeline shows.

At 10:07 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2019, Alex Cox's device arrives at the LDS church parking lot that is just under three miles away from the Daybell residence. 

At 11:38 p.m. that night, a JPEG image is deleted from Tammy Daybell's phone. Around this time, Chad Daybell also texts Lori Vallow. She was in Hawaii.

Just before midnight, Alex Cox's device leaves the church parking lot. He calls his sister, Lori Vallow, about 30 minutes later. Tammy Daybell was believed to have been asphyxiated around 12 a.m. that night, according to previous testimony of the Utah State Medical Examiner.

The jury are not seeing these texts. The three also had burner phones.

10:40 a.m.: After a brief recess, the jury sees timestamps of the calls around the attempted shooting of Tammy Daybell.

Lori Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, and Chad Daybell sent eight texts between 1:19 p.m.-1:22 p.m on Oct. 9, 2019.

Fifteen more texts between them later in the night, around 7-8 p.m. Lori Vallow also conducted a "casting" or an exorcism that night with her friend Zulema Pastenes, directed at Tammy Daybell.

While police are on scene at the Daybell residence just after 9 p.m., there were multiple text messages between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow, between Chad Daybell and Alex Cox and between Lori Vallow and Alex Cox.

The night of the attempted shooting, Tammy Daybell parked in the front of the home rather than the back of the home, where Edwards said she usually parked.

Edwards said that Tammy Daybell told police she observed a man in a black mask with a paintball gun pointed at her. However, a paintball gun and an AR can look similar, Edwards said. An AR was found and collected as evidence in Alex Cox's apartment, presumed to belong to him, previous testimony showed.

Edwards said through the investigation, some neighbors told him that it could be some unruly kids in the neighborhood. He found no one in the neighborhood owned paintball guns.

Police discovered Alex Cox made some searches about guns and bullet trajectory in reference to a scope on the top of the gun. This scope is similar to that of a paintball gun, Edwards said.

10:00 a.m.: Edwards said he didn't find any connection between Tammy Daybell and Lori Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, besides that Chad Daybell knew Alex Cox.

Edwards said around the time of the attempted shooting of Tammy Daybell, there were 90 calls and texts between Chad Daybell, Alex Cox, Zulema Pastenes and Lori Vallow between Oct. 9-10 of 2019.

9:50 a.m.: The state calls Nicholas Edwards, the lead investigator at the Idaho Attorney General's Office. He also works in the military. Edwards is the state's 60th witness in the murder trial.

He became involved in investigating Tammy Daybell's death in April of 2020. Tammy Daybell died on Oct. 19, 2019.

On Oct. 3, 2019, Chad Daybell texts Lori Vallow that he is excited to go on their date.

The next day, according to texts from Lori Vallow's iCloud account, he says, "Dreaming of caressing you in your bed."

On Oct. 4-5 of 2019, Tammy Daybell took a trip to Utah, Edwards said, at the request of Chad Daybell.

9:25 a.m.: Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow's accounts exchanged multiple intimate messages between each other, Heideman said.

"The intensity of each encounter in my mind... One greater than the last, I've never loved you more... It just keeps growing," Lori Vallow texted Chad Daybell.

Chad Daybell responds, "Elena's magic hand has gripped the storm... Barely able to breathe as the intense waves wash over them..."

"Yes she did," Lori Vallow replied.

"I love you, Elena. What wonderful chemistry we share," Chad Daybell texts back.

9:00 a.m.: The state calls FBI Tactical Specialist Nicole Heideman. She testified previously on April 24.

Heideman had reviewed Lori Vallow's iCloud account and pieced together the entire "James and Elena" story, a love story between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. FBI Special Agent Doug Hart said on the stand Monday that Chad Daybell referred to himself as "James" and Lori Vallow as "Elena."

He also referred to himself as "Raphael" and Lori Vallow as "Lili" occasionally.

The "James and Elena" story begins Oct. 26, 2018, where Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell met, Heideman said. The story of James and Elena matches up with Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow going to the LDS temple, religious conferences and even James staying over at Elena's home, Heideman said.

Heideman has bank statements and travel records from the two that also correspond with the James and Elena storyline.

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