JJ Vallow’s grandparents fight claim they shouldn’t be allowed to watch Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Mar 31, 2023, 7:28 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2023, 3:44 pm

BOISE, Idaho — The grandparents of Joshua JJ Vallow are asking an Idaho judge to allow them to sit in court and appoint them to represent the murdered 7-year-old, on the eve of the trial for JJ’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell.

Shanon Gray, attorney for Kay and Larry Woodcock, filed a motion and memorandum Friday arguing why the couple deserves to be defined as victims and why Kay Woodcock is the best person to represent her late grandson.

The Woodcocks had plans to attend Vallow Daybell’s trial every single day after jury selection, as they look for justice in the deaths of JJ, Tylee Ryan, and Tammy Daybell. But Judge Steven Boyce could rule next week that they can’t sit inside the courtroom because they’re being called as witnesses to testify.

Boyce issued an order that witnesses cannot watch others give testimony in the case, with an exception made for victims.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

“The defense argued that [the Woodcocks] weren’t under the immediate family definition under a couple of statutes,” Gray said, in an interview with KSL TV Friday. He was referring to a Wednesday hearing where Vallow Daybell’s attorneys said they believed the Woodcocks are not legally defined as victims because they aren’t JJ’s immediate family.

Vallow Daybell adopted JJ with her late husband and Kay’s brother, Charles Vallow. Vallow Daybell has been indicted in Charles’ death in Arizona.

The prosecution rebutted in Wednesday’s hearing that the Woodcocks are legally defined as victims because they have suffered direct emotional damage as a result of the crimes.

The Woodcocks issued a statement Thursday, stating they appreciated the outpouring of love and support after the hearing.

“We were completely blindsided and heartbroken at the argument made saying we are not JJ’s grandparents and should not be considered victims in the case,” the Woodcocks wrote. “We continue to be victimized by Lori every single day living life without JJ, Tylee and Charles, then again by possibly denying us the chance to be the face in the courtroom seeking justice for them. We made a promise over three years ago to Tylee and JJ to see justice prevail.  We will fight until we have exhausted all options to keep that promise.”

The couple hired Gray to fight on their behalf.

“They might be witnesses in the case, but that’s secondary to their rights as victims,” he said.

Even if Boyce decides Kay and Larry Woodcock are not legally defined as victims, Gray explained that Boyce can appoint Kay as a representative for JJ, which would give the couple the right to sit in the room and then potentially allow Kay to a victim impact statement and collect restitution depending on the outcome of the trial.

“Kay is by far the most involved; she’s the one that’s been involved in this the entire case,” he said. He also pointed out how they’re the ones who initiated the search for JJ in the first place.

The Woodcocks called law enforcement in Rexburg, Idaho November 2019 to check on JJ, after not being able to get in contact with him for months. It sparked an investigation into the whereabouts of JJ and Tylee.

JJ’s remains were discovered in the backyard of Vallow Daybell’s new husband, Chad Daybell, in June 2020 along with the remains of JJ’s adoptive sister and Vallow Daybell’s daughter, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. It’s believed Tylee died days before her 17th birthday in September 2019, with JJ being killed soon after.

Tammy Daybell, Chad’s wife, died under suspicious circumstances in October 2019.

Both Daybell and Vallow Daybell were later indicted and charged in the three deaths. They will be tried separately.

“There’s just no reason for them not to be able to sit in that courtroom with all of the tragedy that they’ve experienced,” Gray said.

Vallow Daybell’s trial begins Monday with jury selection. The courtroom is closed to the public and media for that process. The public is expected to be allowed in the courtroom for opening statements and onward. Boyce said Wednesday he hopes to have a decision on the Woodcocks early next week.

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JJ Vallow’s grandparents fight claim they shouldn’t be allowed to watch Lori Vallow Daybell trial