PHOENIX - Lawyers for the mother of two missing kids with Arizona ties asked a judge to reduce her $1 million bond during a court appearance on Friday.
The request, however, is officially denied.
Lori Vallow's children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were last seen in September 2019. The disappearances have uncovered a complicated sequence of events related to Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, including details surrounding the death of Lori's former husband, Charles Vallow, details surrounding the death and subsequent burial of Chad's former wife, Tammy, and allegations of cult membership.
In late January, Idaho authorities say a child protection action was filed on behalf of JJ and Tylee, and that a court has ordered Vallow to physically produce the two children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in Rexburg within five days of being served with the order. Vallow, ultimately, failed to obey the court order. She was subsequently arrested in Hawaii, extradited to Idaho, and made a court appearance there.
Friday's court appearance marks Lori's first court appearance in nearly two months, but the environment was different than her last hearing. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, Lori, along with the defense lawyer and the prosecution, wore a mask in court.
Lori’s attorney, Mark Means, wanted his client's bond amount reduced. Madison County's Prosecuting Attorney, Rob Wood, argued that Lori's bond should stay the same, since she has not complied with a court order to produce JJ and Tylee.
Allegations of call recording
Means also made allegations that officals have been recording his calls with his client during visits. Means believes at least two calls with Lori were recorded by Madison County Jail's Telmate app.
"I might not be the most seasoned attorney, but there is absolutely no way that I would ever get on a phone, thinking that it was going to be recorded and have incredibly sensitive conversations with my client regarding their defense," said Means.
Prosecutors say it's true that two calls, one lasting a minute and another 28 minutes, were recorded on March 31. Two affidavits from a Rexburg Police lieutenant and Madison County lieutenant were provided, and Wood says based on the affidavits, Means knew he simply had to request the call to not be recorded. There's even a notification on the call, warning parties of calls being monitored.
In addition, the 28-minute call did get deleted, according to FOX 10's Justin Lum.
“You may speculate about others, but what we’ve learned from the affidavits is that were two phone call," said Presiding judge Michelle Mallard.
"I think the issue that I have is there’s gotta be a little bit of speculation allowed, given the history of what’s happening," said Means.
"The problem is they're saying this is good cause for bail reduction. I don't think this is the case at all. I think this is an attempt to divert the court and the public from the actual facts in the case," said Wood.
Mallard, who is a new judge on the cases, said she wanted facts, and not speculation. Means asked for the bond to be reduced to the range of $100,000 to $250,000, saying it's a violation of Vallow's rights for anyone to listen to calls.
"I Don’t really have any evidence that that is actually what’s going on here. On that basis, I’m denying the motion for bond reduction," said Judge Mallard.
Judge Mallard also asked Means to talk to other defense attorneys and work with the jail staff on how to improve private communications with Lori.
Grandparents respond to new developments
During the proceeding, there was barely a mention of JJ and Tylee in court, leaving Kay and Larry Woodcock wondering: what about their rights?
“I think it was an embarrassment to the law profession," said Larry. "I think that she has got a long road home.”
JJ's eighth birthday is coming up in May.
“If I can’t hug him on his birthday, it’ll be it’s just cruel. It’s cruel," said Kay. "It’s cruel to me, it’s cruel to Larry, it’s cruel to everybody that loves him, but most cruel to is JJ. Who’s he gonna have?”
Both Kay and Larry remain optimistic.
"There’s no proof of life. There’s no proof of death, so we’re gonna be positive, and that’s what we’ve done all along," said Kay.