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Lori Vallow Daybell's attorneys request re-trial due to concerns about evidence, jury instructions

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 26, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — Attorneys for Lori Vallow Daybell are asking an Idaho judge to vacate the guilty verdicts against her and hold a new trial.

James Archibald and John Thomas filed a "Motion for a New Trial" in the State of Idaho and Fremont County court system on Thursday — just under the 14-day deadline to do so.

Vallow Daybell was convicted by a jury on May 12 of conspiring to commit the murders of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and Tammy Daybell. She was also convicted for the first-degree murder of her two children, a charge that indicates a more direct role in the crimes, as well as grand theft.

She was then transferred back to the Madison County Jail in Rexburg to await sentencing, which is scheduled for July 31. After sentencing, she is expected to be extradited to Arizona to face a 2019 murder charge in the death of her then-estranged husband Charles Vallow, as well as the alleged attempted murder of her niece's then-husband in 2019.

In the latest court filing, Vallow Daybell's attorneys cited three instances of an Idaho state law (Statute 19-2406) that allows for a new trial to be declared:

  • "when the jury has received any evidence out of court other than that resulting from a view of the premises" (case #2 under the statute),
  • "when the court has misdirected the jury in a matter of law, or has erred in the decision of any question of law arising during the course of the trial" (case #5)
  • "when the verdict is contrary to law or evidence" (case #6).

CASE #2 (IDAHO STATUTE 19-2406)

The motion claims that one of the jurors, in a post-trial interview with a local news outlet, that the "instructions were confusing and that he knew of evidence not submitted to the jury."

The juror said in the interview that, to their understanding, the evidence from the Arizona cases connected to Vallow Daybell was "only for demonstrative purposes." Thomas and Archibald argue that this was not the case, but that it was "evidence to show some other reason other than bad character."

Also, the defense cites a quote from the interview where the juror says Phoenix Police "had some significant red flags, that had they been followed up on, you know, maybe we’re not here." The reporter asked if they meant bodycam footage from an interaction with police prior to Charles Vallow being shot and killed by Alex Cox in July 2019. The juror nodded, according to the motion.

"Charles Vallow’s statements to law enforcement were not part of the evidence presented in this case. The juror and the reporter refer to it, but it wasn’t presented in court," the motion reads. "We can only conclude that the juror relied on information not presented in court to reach his conclusion that Arizona dropped the ball and should have done more, even before Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Alex Cox."

CASE #5 (IDAHO STATUTE 19-2406)

The motion also claims that jurors were misdirected in their instructions when it came to the conspiracy charges. The lawyers argue that Vallow Daybell's indictment on conspiracy included "Chad Guy Daybell, Lori Norene Vallow, and Alex Cox (deceased) and other co-conspirators, both known and unknown."

The motion says the court only allowed the jury to consider two people under the alleged conspiracy.

"This language clearly states that at least five people entered into a conspiracy: Chad, Lori, Alex, and other conspirators," the motion reads. "The trial court, however, at the government’s request, allowed the trial jury to consider a conspiracy of only two people: Lori and Chad, Lori and Alex, or Chad and Alex. This change of the definition of conspiracy from the grand jury to the trial jury completely changed the complexity of this case by allowing the insertion of the “and/or” language."

CASE #6: (IDAHO STATUTE 19-2406)

The defense also cited the charge of grand theft, saying the court should not have allowed the prosecution to amend Vallow Daybell's indictment language.

The full court document can be viewed HERE.