A coalition of 33 news organizations filed a request Thursday urging an Idaho judge to reject a motion to ban cameras from the courtroom during the upcoming trial of “cult mom” Lori Vallow Daybell.
Vallow Daybell and her husband, Chad Daybell, are charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death’s of Vallow Daybell’s children JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan and Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, as CrimeOnline has previously reported.
Vallow Daybell is also charged with conspiracy in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, just weeks before JJ and Tylee disappeared, Tammy Daybell died, and she and Daybell were married. She faces that charge in Arizona.
In a filing late last month, defense attorneys argued that banning cameras was appropriate because one news organization repeatedly zoomed in on Vallow Daybell’s face during a hearing on August 16, the Associated Press wrote.
“The zoom in on the defendant’s face was so close that the obvious intent of the filming was not to listen to the arguments of counsel, but to gauge every facial expression of the defendant or her lawyers,” attorneys Jim Archibald and John Thomas wrote.
The attorneys also said that video cameras could be used to zoom in on notes written between Vallow Daybell and her counsel.
“Defense counsel would ask that since media has abused their privilege to photograph and record the proceedings in a fair and reasonable manner, that cameras be banned from the courtroom,” the attorneys wrote.
They suggested that still photography would be acceptable, provided no zoom features were allowed.
An attorney for the news organizations, however, argued that the defense claims are false and that technical staffers monitor the hearing feed to keep inappropriate information out.
“The public’s confidence in the criminal justice system grows when the courtroom is open to all, including those who cannot physically attend,” Wright said on Thursday. “We reject any claim that the media has failed to comply with the court’s orders balancing the rights of Ms. Daybell with the transparency necessary to serve the public interest.”
A hearing on the request to ban cameras is expected next week.
Defense attorneys also asked Boyce to send the conspiracy charges back to the grand jury because they were confusing and to send the entire case back to the grand jury so they can decide whether the death penalty is merited. Boyce rejected both requests on Wednesday.
Vallow Daybell and Daybell are expected to be tried together, with the trial beginning in January.
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[Featured image: FILE – Lori Vallow Daybell in court on August 16. (Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News via AP, Pool, File)