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Lori Vallow-Daybell found guilty of murdering her children and conspiring to kill her husband’s former wife

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Lori Vallow-Daybell found guilty on all charges.
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BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) - A jury has found Lori Vallow-Daybell guilty on all counts of killing her two children and conspiring in the murder of her husband's ex-wife.

Vallow-Daybell, who pleaded not guilty, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy in the 2019 deaths of her children 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, as well as Tammy Daybell, the former wife of her husband Chad Daybell.

She is facing life in prison when sentenced.

A jury of seven men and five women began deliberating Thursday afternoon and reached a unanimous guilty verdict Friday afternoon.

Among Vallow-Daybell's charges were grand theft on suspicion of changing bank accounts to collect Social Security benefits on behalf of her children after their deaths, according to a May 2021 indictment. Prosecutors said Thursday she didn't report her children missing to keep collecting the money, East Idaho News reported.

Chad Daybell, who also pleaded not guilty to his charges, will be tried separately.

Tammy Daybell died in her sleep in October 2019 -- Vallow-Daybell married Daybell weeks later.

Law enforcement authorities discovered the remains of Daybell's stepchildren in his backyard in Fremont County, Idaho, in June 2020. He is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction; alteration or concealment of evidence; and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

Madison County prosecuting attorney Rob Wood urged the jury to convict Vallow-Daybell on every count for which she is charged in closing arguments, which concluded Thursday after a month-long trial.

"You must convict her," Wood said Thursday as the courtroom saw images of Vallow-Daybell's children and Tammy Daybell, East Idaho News reported.

Before resting their case Tuesday, the defense made a motion called Rule 29 seeking judgment of acquittal before the case is handed to the jury, on the grounds the case lacked sufficient evidence to warrant the charges, CNN affiliate KBOI-TV reported. Judge Steven Boyce denied the motion on all counts Thursday.

"No one here thinks Lori actually killed anyone, that's why she's being charged with conspiracy," Jim Archibald, Vallow-Daybell's attorney, said Thursday.

"If you find her guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope. If you find her not guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope," Archibald said, according to East Idaho News.

People familiar with the couple, who married shortly after Vallow-Daybell's children went missing, have described them as doomsday cult members with extreme religious beliefs, East Idaho News reported.

The couple "did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of" justifying or encouraging the killings of the children and Tammy Daybell, the May 2021 indictment stated.

Their story was featured in a Netflix true-crime documentary last year.

Statement from Madison County and Fremont County
Prosecuting Attorneys

We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict, and we want to thank them, as well as the alternates, for their service over last six weeks during this trial.

Given the pending case against the co-defendant, we are unable to conduct any additional interviews or discuss further details of this matter. We want to assure each of you that we remain committed to pursuing justice for Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell.

We also want to express sincere appreciation to the many members of law enforcement and the community who tirelessly worked together to hold Lori Vallow Daybell accountable.

Rob Wood
Madison County Prosecuting Attorney

Lindsey Blake
Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

ORIGINAL: An Idaho jury is expected to announce a verdict on murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges Friday afternoon in the strange triple murder trial of Lori Vallow-Daybell. You can watch it below.

Prosecutors in the case described Vallow Daybell as a power-hungry manipulator who would kill her two youngest children for money, while the defense team said she was normally protective mother who fell under the romantic sway of a wannabe cult leader.

Jurors heard both stories Thursday during final arguments in the seven-week long trial, and deliberated for about four hours before breaking for the evening. They resumed deliberations Friday morning and reached a verdict, which is to be read shortly after noon local time.

Vallow Daybell and her fifth husband Chad Daybell are both charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and Daybell's previous wife Tammy Daybell. Prosecutors say the two worked with Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, to carry out the crimes. Cox died in December 2019 and was never charged.

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. Vallow Daybell faces up to life in prison if she is convicted. Chad Daybell’s trial is still months away.

Vallow Daybell wanted the victims' money, so she used sex and power to manipulate her brother and her lover into carrying out the crimes, Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood told jurors during closing arguments.

“ Money, power and sex,” Wood said, reprising the arguments his team made at the start of the trial. He claimed Vallow Daybell considered the three victims nothing more than obstacles to her goals.

“What does justice for these victims require? It requires a conviction on each and every count,” Wood said.

Defense attorney Jim Archibald countered that there was no evidence tying his client to the killings but plenty showing she was a loving, protective mother whose life took a sharp turn when she met her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, and fell for the “weird” apocalyptic religious claims of a cult leader. He suggested that Daybell and Cox were the ones responsible for the deaths, and that Vallow Daybell's only crime was lying to police about where her children were.

Daybell told her they had been married in several previous lives and she was a “sexual goddess” who was supposed to help him save the world by gathering 144,000 followers so Jesus could return, Archibald said.

“Why can’t people escape religious cult figures, why can’t they break out, why can’t they break away from that mind control?” Archibald said. “Promises are marvelous to some people even if they sound like stupid gibberish to the rest of us.”

At times, the testimony in the case has been heartbreaking — such as when Vallow Daybell’s only surviving child, Colby Ryan, accused her of murdering his siblings in a recorded jailhouse phone call.

Other testimony has been strange, such as when Vallow Daybell’s former friend Melanie Gibb testified that Vallow Daybell believed people in her life had been taken over by evil spirits and turned into “zombies” — including JJ and Tylee. Four of the people the defendant described as “zombies” were later killed or shot at, according to the testimony.

It has also been gruesome, such as when law enforcement officers testified about finding JJ and Tylee’s remains buried in Chad Daybell’s yard.

Tylee had her whole life ahead of her, Wood told the jury, when she was killed in September 2019.

“Tylee’s body was burned beyond recognition. Her body was dismembered in such a grotesque and extreme manner,” that the medical examiner couldn’t determine the cause of death, Wood said. Marks on her pelvis showed she was stabbed, he said.

“JJ Vallow’s voice was silenced forever by a strip of duct tape over his mouth,” just two weeks later, Wood said. “A white plastic bag was placed over his head, and secured with duct tape around and around from his forehead to his chin.”

Evidence shows JJ struggled, Wood said, and at one point the boy’s arms and legs were bound with duct tape.

“He stopped breathing, his heart stopped beating and he died. It was a brutal, horrific murder of a 7-year-old boy with special needs,” he said.

Vallow Daybell never reported the kids missing but continued to collect the survivor benefit checks each child was receiving because of the earlier deaths of their fathers, Wood said.

Wood said Tammy Daybell was slain between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20, 2019.

The defense attorney countered that Vallow Daybell wasn't even in the state when Tammy Daybell was killed. She was in Hawaii, visiting with friends, he said.

Archibald did not call any witnesses during the trial, and Vallow Daybell declined to testify. Instead, Archibald asserted that prosecutors had not proven their case, suggesting that there was not enough evidence to find beyond a reasonable doubt that she committed a crime.

“Of the 15,000 texts you have in evidence, show me one where Lori is part of that conspiracy,” Archibald said in closing arguments.

Under Idaho law, conspiring to commit a murder carries the same penalty as carrying out a murder. Wood reminded jurors of that law, noting that aiding and abetting a crime is akin to committing it.

The case began in July 2019, when Vallow Daybell's then-husband, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed by her brother, Alex Cox, at his home in a Phoenix suburb. The husband and wife were estranged, and he had filed divorce documents claiming that she believed she was a goddess sent to usher in the Biblical apocalypse.

At the time, Cox told police he acted in self-defense, and he was never charged in connection with the death. Cox died later that year of what authorities determined were natural causes. Vallow Daybell was later charged in Arizona in connection with Charles Vallow's death; she has not yet had the opportunity to enter a plea in that case.

According to prosecutors, Vallow Daybell was already in a relationship with Chad Daybell, who was still married to his wife, Tammy Daybell, at the time. She moved to eastern Idaho with her brother and kids to be closer to Chad Daybell.

The children were last seen alive in September of 2019. Police discovered they were missing a month later after an extended family member became worried. Their bodies were found the following summer.

The case has garnered widespread interest not just in Idaho but around the world, and the judge banned cameras from the courtroom in an effort to limit pretrial publicity. The trial was also moved to the capital city of Boise, where 1,800 potential jurors were called and winnowed to a panel of 18 people.

You can view a timeline of events and all our past stories on Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Vallow-Daybell Coverage

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