Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Lori Vallow Daybell appears in Ada County court for first time in last-minute hearing

March 29, 2023 Updated Wed., March 29, 2023 at 9:17 p.m.

Lori Vallow Daybell sits between defense attorneys Jim Archibald, left, and John Thomas.  (East Idaho News)
Lori Vallow Daybell sits between defense attorneys Jim Archibald, left, and John Thomas. (East Idaho News)
By Karen Lehr Idaho Statesman

A last-minute hearing was scheduled in the upcoming Lori Vallow Daybell case and held at the Ada County Courthouse on Wednesday morning.

Judge Steven Boyce called the hearing to discuss the legal definition of a “victim” and to whom it would apply in the complex case. The issue would affect who is allowed to sit in and listen to certain portions of testimony and evidence if they will be then called as witnesses.

Boyce issued an order that would exclude witnesses from sitting in on certain testimony, but victims in the case could be exceptions. The question was, who is legally considered a victim?

The concern is whether listening to certain evidence or testimony could then change a person’s testimony if they are later called.

Daybell was present for the hearing with attorneys Jim Archibald and John Thomas. This was the first time she appeared publicly in Ada County.

During the hearing, the defense and prosecution argued which family members they believe fit the legal definition of a victim.

Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood argued that the court’s interpretation of a victim should include anyone who suffered emotional harm as the result of an offense. He pointed to JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, as people he believes fit the definition and should be allowed to watch the entirety of the trial.

Wood also argued that Lori’s sister, Summer Shiftlet, and Lori’s son, Colby Ryan, should be considered victims. Shiftlet is the aunt of victims JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, whose bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property. Colby Ryan is the half-brother of the two deceased children.

Lori’s defense team responded by saying they believe Colby Ryan is the only relative who fits the legal definition of a victim, since he is a sibling of the deceased. Archibald argued that aunts and grandparents should not be considered victims.

Archibald also said the children of Tammy Daybell – Chad’s late wife – could fit the legal definition of victims in the case, but he said he does not believe they plan to be present at the trial.

Archibald brought up Idaho adoption laws and argued that JJ’s biological parents gave up their legal parental rights, meaning Kay Woodcock was no longer legally JJ’s grandmother.

Archibald argued that Kay Woodcock “gave herself” the name of grandma. He argued that since she is Charles Vallow’s sister, she is actually JJ’s aunt, and therefore not an immediate family member.

Boyce will issue a written ruling on the matter by early next week. Prosecution and defense must submit supplemental briefings to the judge by 5 p.m. Friday.

Lori Daybell’s trial begins Monday with jury selection.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.