PHOENIX - Lori Vallow, the so-called ‘Doomsday Mother’ accused of murdering her two children, argued the language in her indictment during an Idaho court appearance on Aug. 16.
Aug. 16's court appearance for Vallow was her first since an arraignment in April. That arraignment happened after Vallow was deemed competent to stand trial.
As for Chad Daybell, Vallow's co-defendant and current husband, he did not appear for the hearing on Aug. 16 since the motions did not relate to him.
Complex case garnered international media attention
The case involving Vallow, which first began as the disappearances of her two children with Phoenix area ties - Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan - has since uncovered a complex sequence of events that have garnered national and international media attention.
Vallow and Daybell were married in November 2019, and in January 2020, Vallow, who was in Hawaii by that time, was served with an order to physically produce JJ and Tylee.
Vallow was arrested in February 2020, and remains found on Daybell's property in June 2020 were later confirmed to be those of JJ and Tylee.
During her arraignment in April, Vallow pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of criminal conspiracy, and one count of grand theft. Idaho prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Vallow.
Judge denies Vallow's motion for case to be sent back to grand jury
During the court appearance on Aug. 16, Vallow was seen wearing her wedding ring.
In the proceeding, Vallow's defense lawyers asked a judge to send her case back to a Grand Jury, in various motions concerning technical matters.
On the first motion, Vallow’s defense asked for probable cause hearings for the aggravating factors linked to the state’s intent to seek death, and on the second motion, Vallow’s lawyers argued that counts one and three in the indictment - conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft by deception - are two separate crimes that are lumped together. Defense lawyers say a trial jury would be confused.
On Sept. 8, the judge denied the defense's motion that the case be sent back to the grand jury.
Prosecutors respond to defense motions
In response, prosecutors say under Idaho law, a single count of conspiracy can include multiple crimes committed. According to investigators, Vallow collected Social Security benefits on behalf of JJ and Tylee, after the siblings were believed to be killed in September 2019.
"I have issue with the State saying we can lump all these into one conspiracy charge, and as long as they find one of those conspiracies, then the conspiracy is met," said Vallow's lawyer, John Thomas. "If we’re doing that, you’re asking the jury to find not only was it murder, or was it grand theft, or was it something else the State was going to come up with between now and the trial?"
"If you really break it down to what the crime is, it’s not that confusing," said Prosecutor Rob Wood. "The crime is that they agreed to murder someone and steal money linked to that person, and the crime is the agreement."
Judge Steven Boyce said written rulings would be issued for the defense's motions.
Cameras caught Vallow as she left the courthouse to be transported back to the women’s detention center in Idaho's Madison County, and captured moments of Vallow smiling once she was in the car.
Vallow's trial is set for January 2023.