Defense attacks Lori Vallow Daybell’s husband and brother in closing

May 11, 2023, 8:11 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2024, 7:33 pm

BOISE, Idaho — In the final minutes of the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the defense, for the first time, stated its case of why the mother of two dead children is not guilty of their murders.

In closing arguments, Attorney R. James “Jim” Archibald portrayed Vallow Daybell as a previously good mother to JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan who fell under the sway of her fifth and current husband Chad Daybell. He told the jury the charges she faced were not proven by the state.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

“No one here thinks Lori actually killed anyone. That’s why she’s charged with conspiracy, because they think someone else did the killing,” Archibald told the jury. “If you find her not guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope. What you need to be concerned of is following the law, and the lack of evidence.”

Archibald mocked Chad Daybell to make the case that Vallow Daybell was caught up in his influence. He stated he wrote “stupid” books and made far less money than her fourth husband, the late Charles Vallow.

That wasn’t all. Archibald addressed the sex claim too.

“Look at pictures of Charles, and pictures of Chad ... is that a trade up, or a trade down?”

Archibald got laughs in the overflow courtroom streaming the proceedings, but where he was presenting to the jury, things remained quiet. He also spoke about Daybell’s ineffective efforts to attract followers and his stories of religion beyond the mainstream.

“What’s going on in Chads brain? Well, you and I wouldnt believe it, would we? But some people do.”

As the jury was reminded several times Thursday, after four weeks of testimony, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. And when it rested its case Wednesday, the defense team called no witnesses, presented no evidence and motioned for an acquittal. That motion was denied by Judge Steven Boyce.

2 Lori Vallow family members hope for guilty verdict from jury

That left Thursday’s closing arguments as the first and only time the defense presented an alternative narrative to the prosecution’s claims that the murders of JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan and her husband’s late wife Tammy Daybell were the plot of Vallow Daybell.

She wants her children gone,” prosecution attorney Rob Wood said. “There is no doubt, she wants these children gone. She is encouraging their murder.”

The prosecution delivered its closing arguments first and had the final words to the jury too, with it’s burden to provide guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

There is no question that Tylee Ryan, JJ, Vallow and Tammy Daybell were murdered. Who is the common thread? Lori Vallow. What does justice for these victims require? It requires a conviction of each and every count.”

‘Money, power, sex:’ Idaho prosecutors and defense rest, jury begins deliberation

But Archibald presented a different story where Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell’s brother Alex Cox killed the kids while she was away. He said while she knew her kids were missing, she didn’t know they were in her husband’s back yard.

Of the 15,000 texts you have as evidence, show me one that shows Lori as a part of that conspiracy…there is no such text,” Archibald said.

He also discounted finding one of Vallow Daybell’s hairs on JJ’s buried body. He said along with socks, pajamas and a blanket, it was natural to find a hair of a mother with a buried child.

Was it proven who killed JJ? No, but Alex and Chad were in Chads backyard.”

The prosecution rebutted Archibald’s words and with the final words to the jury by repeating it’s legal standard for reasonable doubt as reason and common sense. Wood said:

“Again, reason and common sense. Lori’s behavior shows that she is a killer. Lori’s behavior is not one of a mom who is concerned over the safety and well being of her children. Justice for these victims requires a conviction. The state has met its burden. Again, reason and common sense. Reason and common sense. You must convict her. Thank you.”

The court then dismissed six randomly selected jurors from the pool of 18 and asked them to remain available if needed, as alternates, and asked they not to talk about the case or read about it yet.

The case was then handed to the jury who stopped deliberations after dinner Thursday. They must deliberate on each of the six felonies and will return at 9 a.m. Friday while family, an interested public and media wait for the their decisions.

Lori Vallow Daybell faces charges of:

  • First-degree murder for the death of Tylee Ryan.
  • First-degree murder for the death of J.J. Vallow.
  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the death of Tylee Ryan.
  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the death of J.J. Vallow.
  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the death of Tammy Daybell.
  • Grand theft, related to Social Security survivor benefits for JJ and Tylee


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Defense attacks Lori Vallow Daybell’s husband and brother in closing