Lori Daybell found unfit to stand trial; new charges submitted

Posted at 11:00 AM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 00:50:20-04

ST. ANTHONY, Idaho — In a stunning announcement, Lori Daybell was declared unfit to stand trial Thursday-- effectively bringing her entire case to a halt. Just minutes later, information was released that new charges were submitted in Arizona against Daybell for her role in the death of her former husband.

The determination that Daybell was not competent to stand trial was made following a Psychological Assessment performed by a licensed clinical psychologist. The assessment was ordered March 8 in connection to a specific conspiracy complaint filed against Daybell.

"The completed assessment determined that at this time the Defendant is not competent to proceed, and recommends restorative treatment," the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of Idaho wrote.

District Judge Steven Boyce issued a stay based on the assessment supplied by the licensed clinical psychologist. Prosecutors have contested the findings and a hearing will be set at a later date.

Lori Daybell and Chad Daybell were indicted on multiple charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Tylee Ryan, J.J. Vallow and Tammy Daybell.

"Everything is stopped. Everything has come to a grinding halt," explained attorney Nathan Evershed, who is not connected to the case.

He said that these assessments are based on interviews, and background, and medical science.

"These reports are pretty thorough, and have a lot of information in them," he said. "They usually conduct a very, very thorough examination. They go through different records and whatnot."

As the State contests the findings, Evershed said they could hire another psychologist to carry out another evaluation. A judge will ultimately decide Daybell's competency in a hearing, where the prosecution and defense will each present their sides.

But in his experience, Evershed said, the judge will usually rule in favor of that first finding.

"Usually when someone is declared incompetent, usually that's based off of sound medical knowledge and expertise," he said. "And usually, that’s exactly what the court follows with."

Evershed pointed out that Daybell's incompetency assessment is in regards to her current mental state, not her mental state at the time her children were killed.

"Right now what the allegation is, is that she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, what the process is. She cannot adequately mount a defense. She cannot adequately assist her defense counsel in mounting a defense," Evershed said. "And so because of that, and if that's true, then a judge will determine that. Then she'll have to be restored in order for her to mount a defense."

He described the process of restoration, saying that Lori-- if found by the court to be incompetent-- would be committed to a facility for at least 90 days.

According to Idaho law, Evershed said that the court would get updates on Daybell's competency every 90 days. If she is restored, he said, then her case would be able to move forward again.

On Thursday, Daybell's defense attorney Mark Means filed both a Request for Discovery, to see what the prosecution has gathered in its cast against her, as well as a Subpoena Duces Tecum for Madison County, Idaho Sheriff Rick Henry.

The document asks him to submit the entire file in regard to the communications of Daybell, Madison County deputies, and her behavior in the Madison County Jail. Attached is a news article that says authorities claimed Daybell "remains convinced she's on the right path."

It goes on to state jailers claimed Daybell was, "reading Chad's books, she's writing him letters, she's dancing in her cell. She still seems to be caught up in the belief that she is going to be swept out of all this and taken up to heaven sometime in the next little while."

The Supoena Duces Tecum asks for records, reports, communications, etc. regarding deputies and their statements to the media regarding Daybell.

Both Daybells appeared in court Wednesday, but 15 minutes before Lori Daybell's appearance, the court found "exigent circumstances," and an oral motion was filed by her attorney Mark Means to continue the hearing. The court granted the continuance to an undetermined date.

Chad Daybell's arraignment has been set for June 9, the one year anniversary of the day J.J. and Tylee's remains were found.

On Thursday, the Chandler (Ariz.) Police Department announced it had submitted charges to the county attorney for Daybell in the death of her former husband Charles Vallow.

According to a police report, on July 11, 2019, Lori Daybell's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Charles Vallow in her Arizona home.

Vallow went to his then-wife's home around 8:30 a.m. that day, and the two got into an argument, according to a statement from Chandler police. It was not immediately clear how long the couple had not been living together at that point.

Cox allegedly intervened in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, but he and Vallow then got into a physical altercation, police said.

Vallow struck Cox in the head with a baseball bat, then Cox shot Vallow twice in the chest, according to police.

Vallow was pronounced dead at the scene. No charges were filed against Cox.

About six months after that shooting, on Dec. 11, 2019, Cox was found unresponsive in his Gilbert home and was later pronounced dead, according to Gilbert police.

KNXV-TV in Phoenix contributed to this article.