Jurors began deliberating Thursday after closing arguments in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the Idaho mother accused of killing her two children and conspiring in the murder of her husband’s ex-wife, according to CNN affiliate East Idaho News.
Vallow Daybell, who has pleaded not guilty, faces life in prison if convicted on two counts of first degree murder and three counts of conspiracy in the 2019 deaths of her children from previous marriages – Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7 – as well as Tammy Daybell, the former wife of Chad Daybell who died in her sleep several weeks before he married Vallow Daybell.
Vallow Daybell is also charged with grand theft on suspicion of changing bank accounts to collect Social Security benefits on behalf of her children after they were killed, the May 2021 indictment showed. The case was the subject of a 2022 Netflix true-crime documentary.
“What does justice for these victims require? It requires a conviction on every count,” said Madison County prosecuting attorney Rob Wood during Thursday’s closing arguments in Boise, Idaho.
“You must convict her,” Wood said at the Ada County Courthouse as images of Vallow Daybell’s children and Tammy Daybell were displayed on a screen, East Idaho News reported.
Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, was also accused in the conspiracy to commit the murders, according to the indictment.
Cox, who died in December 2019, shot and killed Vallow Daybell’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. Vallow Daybell faces a separate conspiracy charge in Arizona for Vallow’s murder.
Chad Daybell, who is being tried separately in relation to the deaths, was 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.
Daybell pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In June 2020, law enforcement discovered the remains of his stepchildren in his backyard in Fremont County, Idaho.
People who knew the couple, who married shortly after Vallow Daybell’s children were last seen in September 2019, have described them as having extreme religious beliefs and being doomsday cult members, according to East Idaho News.
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 states.
Judge denies motion to acquit Vallow Daybell
In the four-week trial that began April 10, prosecutors rested their case against Vallow Daybell Tuesday after calling about 60 witnesses, including dozens of law enforcement officers and an FBI agent who obtained access to Vallow Daybell’s iCloud account, CNN affiliates KIVI-TV and KBOI-TV reported.
The online account revealed thousands of text messages from Vallow Daybell to her husband, her brother and others, according to KBOI-TV.
Text exchanges between the accused couple appeared to show a premeditated plan to kill Tammy Daybell and the children – including discussion of “the percentage of life left” in two of the victims before their deaths, FBI Special Agent Douglas Hart said during testimony.
“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.
Before also resting their case Tuesday, the defense made a motion called Rule 29 seeking judgment of acquittal before the case is handed to the jury.
Defense attorneys maintained there wasn’t sufficient evidence to warrant the charges against Vallow Daybell, according to KBOI-TV. Judge Steven Boyce denied the Rule 29 motion on all counts Thursday.
“Tylee, JJ and Tammy can’t tell us what happened,” Wood said during closing arguments, “but their bodies do.”
JJ Vallow’s June 2020 autopsy determined the child suffocated from a plastic bag over his head and duct tape over his mouth, according to a forensic pathologist. The expert added that Tylee Ryan “died by homicide by unspecified means.”
CNN’s Eric Levenson and Emma Tucker contributed to this report.