Judge Suspends Case Against ‘Cult Mom’ Lori Vallow Daybell to Look Again at Her Competency to Stand Trial

The Idaho judge in charge of the murder and conspiracy cases against Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell suspended Vallow Daybell’s case on Thursday over new concerns about her “competency to stand trial.”

The case was previously paused in June 2021 when Vallow Daybell was declared incompetent. She was sent to  a state facility and deemed competent again 10 months later, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

District Judge Stephen Boyce held a closed hearing on Wednesday after her attorneys filed a motion asking for a pause in court proceedings and prosecutors submitted a response under seal, EastIdahoNews.com reported.

“Due to legal issues raised by counsel in their motions and during the hearing … (this case) is hereby suspended until a determination of Mrs. Daybell’s competency to stand trial can be determined,” Boyce wrote in an order released on Thursday. “As a result of a need to determine Mrs. Daybell’s competency … the court sees no other alternative at this time than to vacate the January 9, 2023 trial.”

The Daybells have been charged in the murders of two of Vallow Daybells’s children — 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — as well as Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. The children were found dead, buried in Daybell’s backyard in June 2020 after they vanished in the fall of 2019. Tammy Daybell died mysteriously shortly before Chad and Lori married. Vallow Daybell has also been charged with conspiracy in the death of her previously husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot to death that same summer by her brother, who claimed self-defense and died a few months later.

Kay Woodcock, JJ Vallow’s grandmother, told EastIdahoNews.com she was “angry and disappointed beyond belief” at the delay.

“It seems the only ones getting their way are Chad and Lori,” she said in a statement to the news outlet. “JJ, Tylee and Tammy didn’t have a choice. Everyone who loved them didn’t have a choice. We can’t even have their bodies for a memorial service. Where’s the justice?!?!?!?!? It surely is NOT here.”

The bodies of JJ and Tylee have been in state custody since their discovery.

Vallow Daybell was scheduled to appear at a hearing on October 13 but will no longer be there. Chad Daybell will attend with his attorney, John Prior, who will argue several motions, including a request to sever his trial from his wife’s. Prior has also asked to postpone Daybell’s trial until October 2023, despite opposing the prosecutions previous attempts to delay the trial until next fall.

Prosecutors also filed a motion Thursday opposing Prior’s request that Daybell be allowed to wear street clothes during trial, citing Boyce’s ban on cameras in the courtroom.

“Given the new posture of these proceedings in relation to the media’s access to images of the defendants, the state’s concern regarding jury contamination has been dispelled, and the state would request…the defendants no longer be allowed to appear in street clothes,” prosecutor Lindsey Blake wrote.

Blake and co-prosecutor Rob Wood also opposed Prior’s motion to allow cameras at Daybell’s trial, noting the the issue has already been covered and reopening it “is a waste of court time and resources.”

Blake and Wood also responded to a motion by Prior requesting transcripts from grand jury proceedings last December. The prosecutors acknowledged the December grand jury but wrote that Daybell has not been charged by any other grand jury. That grand jury, they said, was convened “under a separate case number, and the filings and proceedings are not public.”

It’s unknown what that case involves. No other charges have been filed against either defendant.

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[Featured image: FILE – Lori Vallow Daybell after an August 16, 2022 hearing. (East Idaho News/Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News via AP, Pool, File)]