Mom charged in kids’ deaths could face death if convicted

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors in Idaho say they will seek the death penalty against a woman charged with killing her two youngest children and her new husband’s previous wife.

The prosecuting attorneys from Fremont and Madison counties made the announcement in court documents filed Monday, saying Lori Daybell Vallow will qualify for capital punishment if she is convicted at her trial later this year because the slayings were exceptionally depraved and carried out for financial gain.

The prosecutors also said Lori Vallow Daybell showed “utter disregard for human life” and “has exhibited a propensity to commit murder which will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.” Her attorney, Jim Archibald, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lori Daybell’s co-defendant and husband, Chad Daybell, is also facing a potential death penalty if convicted. The pair are charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection with the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.

Prosecutors announced their intent to seek capital punishment in Chad Daybell’s case last August, but Lori Vallow Daybell’s case was on hold at the time because she was undergoing treatment at a mental health facility. Lori Vallow Daybell is scheduled to stand trial in October, and Chad Daybell is scheduled for trial next January.

Idaho law enforcement began investigating the Daybells in November 2019 after extended family members reported the children were missing. The children were missing for several months, during which time police said the couple lied about the children’s whereabouts, before their bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in rural Idaho.

Chad and Lori Daybell married just two weeks after his previous wife, Tammy Daybell, died unexpectedly. Tammy Daybell’s death was initially reported as “natural causes,” but investigators had her body exhumed after growing suspicious when Chad Daybell quickly remarried.

Lori Vallow Daybell is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Arizona in connection with the death of her previous husband. Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Lori Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, who claimed it was self-defense. Cox later died of what police said was natural causes.

Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and a judge entered a “not guilty” plea on Lori Vallow Daybell’s behalf after she stood silent when asked for a plea earlier this year.

Idaho law allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty if they can show certain “aggravating factors” for crimes like murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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