(BOISE, Idaho) — An Idaho mother is set to learn her fate after being convicted in the murders of her two youngest children.
Lori Vallow Daybell will return to court in eastern Idaho’s Fremont County on Monday for a sentencing hearing, according to Boise ABC affiliate KIVI-TV. She faces up to life in prison without parole. In March, before the trial began, a judge granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the death penalty in her case.
Lori and her husband, Chad Daybell, were both charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the 2019 deaths of her two youngest children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow. The children were last seen alive in September 2019 and were reported missing by extended family members that November. Their remains were found on Chad’s property in Fremont County in June 2020, according to authorities.
The couple were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Chad’s ex-wife, 49-year-old Tamara Daybell, who died of asphyxiation of in October 2019, less than a month before Lori and Chad married. Chad was also charged with his former wife’s murder.
Both Lori and Chad pleaded not guilty to their charges. In April, a Fremont County judge allowed their cases to be tried separately, with Lori’s first and Chad’s expected to start at a later date.
Lori was deemed fit to stand trial last year following a 10-month stint at an Idaho mental health facility. Her defense attorneys had said they did not plan to raise a mental health defense at the guilt-phase portion of the trial.
During Lori’s six-week trial, prosecutors argued that she and her husband thought the children were zombies and murdered them. Chad has authored many religious fiction books and is Lori’s fifth husband. The couple both reportedly adhered to a doomsday ideology, with Lori at one point claiming she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020” and didn’t want anything to do with her family “because she had a more important mission to carry out,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News.
The defense characterized Lori as a devoted mother who loved her children and Jesus, but that all changed near the end of 2018 when she met Chad.
Prosecutors argued that Lori set a plan for the children’s murder in motion in October 2018 “using money, power and sex,” and that she and her husband “used religion to manipulate others.” Lori was additionally charged with grand theft related to Social Security survivor benefits allocated for the care of her children that prosecutors said were appropriated after they were reported missing and ultimately found dead. Meanwhile, Chad was additionally charged with two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on Tamara for which prosecutors said he was the beneficiary.
Prosecutors also shared photographs of Lori and Chad dancing on a beach during their wedding in Hawaii when her children’s bodies were buried in his backyard.
In May, a 12-member jury reached a verdict after two days of deliberations, finding Lori guilty on all charges. The defense declined to comment on the verdict at the time.
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