Two witnesses cry on the stand in Lori Vallow Trial: a recap of the day

Apr 10, 2023, 6:26 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 11:27 am

Court sketch....

Court sketch.

BOISE, Idaho — Opening arguments from both the prosecution and the defense began the day in the Lori Vallow Daybell Trial. Two witnesses were called to the stand – the first of the trial.

Vallow Daybell is charged with seven felonies. She and her husband Chad Daybell are accused of murdering her two children, J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Vallow Daybell is also accused of conspiring to murder Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell has pleaded not guilty.

Opening arguments for the prosecution

The prosecution, led by Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey A. Blake, said Vallow Daybell’s actions were all about “money, power and sex.” They argued Vallow Daybell removed any obstacles, including people, to obtain those things.

Blake introduced the three victims: JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan, and Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell is accused of involvement in their deaths.

Images of Tylee Ryan’s charred remains, JJ’s body, and Tammy Daybell’s body were all shown.

JJ was found in a garbage bag with his arms and legs duct-taped.

Tylee’s DNA was found on a pick axe and shovel in a shed on Chad Daybell‘s property.

Both JJ and Tylee had Social Security benefits.

“The defendant didn’t want to take care of JJ anymore, wanted the money, and now JJ is gone,” Blake told the jury.

Blake released the autopsy results of Tammy Daybell, revealing the cause of death to be asphyxiation and not a heart attack as previously believed.

“They were getting married on a sunny beach in Hawaii dancing and celebrating their life together, while Tylee and JJ were dead in the ground.” 

Blake admonished the jury to be attentive, apply common sense, and give every piece of evidence the weight “you think it is due.”
Full descriptions of the opening statements can be found here.

Opening arguments for the defense

The Defense, led by R. James (Jim) Archibald, spoke of Daybell Vallow’s “pretty smile” and “fun-loving, happy-go-lucky personality.”

“She believes in life after death, and believes she will see her deceased family again,” Archibald said.

Archibald argued that Vallow Daybell was “such a good mom,” that Kay Woodcock asked her to adopt JJ in 2014.

Archibald claimed Vallow Daybell was in her own apartment in Rexburg when JJ and Tylee died in the apartment of Alex Cox in Rexburg. Vallow Daybell was in Hawaii when Tammy Daybell died at the home of Chad Daybell in Salem.

Archibald read the charges to the courtroom again and reminded the jury that Chad and Alex are not on trial here. The charge is “did she assist, encourage, or command.”

Archibald explained to the jury that if, after considering evidence, or lack of evidence, “you have a reasonable doubt about Lori’s guilt, you must find her not guilty.”

Kay Woodcock testifies

Following the defense, Kay Woodcock was called to the stand as a witness.

Larry and Kay Woodcock are the grandparents of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, one of the two children Lori Vallow Daybell is accused of killing.

Kay was questioned by prosecutor, Rob Wood.

Kay identifies Vallow Daybell in the courtroom.

JJ was born under the name Cainan, and then his name was changed after he was adopted to Joshua Jackson Vallow. Kay said the condition of his adoption was that she and Larry would maintain access and maintain their role as grandparents.

They saw JJ, “every chance they could.”

Kay got along with Charles, her brother. And Vallow Daybell “was just a doll…when we saw each other it was like we hadn’t missed a day.”

Kay said things began to change in 2019.

She said she went to visit JJ in Chandler, Arizona around Feb. 1 because Charles Vallow had reached out saying he and Vallow Daybell had split up, and she was gone. During that time, Kay didn’t see Vallow Daybell at all. Vallow Daybell was gone for 58 days according to Kay.

“She never reached out to JJ, she never reached out to Charles,” Kay said.

By June, Charles was planning to divorce Vallow Daybell.

Kay said after Charles’ death, she had contact with JJ on three occasions but said something “was off” about the calls. Usually JJ held the iPad or device in his own hands and would talk, while in these three calls, it was evident someone was holding it for him. Each of these calls was very short.

The last call was on Aug. 10, 2019.

“He again was not holding the iPad or the device and he just said ‘hi mama, hi papa,’ then he looked up at whoever was holding the device, and said, ‘gotta go,’ then that was it,” Kay said.

After that, they were unable to ever get in contact with JJ and never heard from Vallow Daybell, according to Kay.

A photo was shown of JJ and Kay became emotional.

Wood asked was Kay “concerned about the whereabouts of JJ?”

“Yes, because Lori didn’t want him anymore,” Kay said.

Kay was asked if anything happened that alerted her to Lori’s whereabouts.

Kay explained on Nov. 8, she noticed Charles’ gmail icon on the computer screen. She singed into the gmail account using a password she knew and found an email from Amazon confirming a delivery to Vallow Daybell’s apartment in Rexburg a few days prior.

“I was shocked at what I found,” she said.

The browsing history showed a beach wedding dress, a bathing suit, a men’s large linen top and pants, and malachite wedding rings – all dated on Oct. 2, 2019.

“I had learned before that Tammy Daybell had passed away on Oct. 19, and this was her (Vallow Daybell) looking at wedding rings and wedding stuff,” Kay said.

Defense attorney, John Thomas, asked why Kay didn’t want to adopt JJ.

“We really wanted to adopt JJ and we could have provided him a good home. But speaking with Charles and Lori, they just had.. their atmosphere was a lot more conducive to a baby,” Kay said. “He had issues…in Lake Charles, there were no special schools for children with disabilities and we knew that was going to be a concern at some point.”

Brandon Boudreaux testifies

Brandon Boudreaux is the ex-husband of Melani Boudreaux, no Melani Pawlowski, who is a niece of Vallow Daybell.

He was questioned by Rachel Smith for the prosecution.

Boudreaux got to know Charles and Lori “very well,” and “spent a lot of time together.”

Boudreaux became emotional as he described the friendship between his oldest son, Braxton, and JJ.

“I think JJ looked up to him a lot and they, um, spent a lot of time together,” Boudreaux said. “JJ wasn’t super interactive, he had autism, so he wasn’t always incredibly interactive but he seemed to love hanging out with my kids.”

Boudreaux knew Tylee as well. When she turned eight, she decided to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Charles wasn’t comfortable so Boudreaux said he performed Tylee’s baptism.

“I spent a lot of time with Tylee as well. I watched her grow up…I watched her grow into a teenager,” he said.

Boudreaux and his former wife, Melani got along well with Chad and Vallow Daybell.

“Melani, she kind of had an affinity towards Lori….she looked at her less like an aunt figure and more like a mom figure,”Boudreaux said. “Charles and I both had a passion for sales in business…we both just loved our families so it was easy to spend time together.

He said that relationship began to change in 2018.

“We just didn’t feel close,” he said.

Around this same time, Melani’s interest and dedication to her religion increased. Boudreaux called her beliefs, “extreme” and said they even had a disagreement at one point about buying $10,000 of food storage right away.

“It just kind of got more bizarre,” he said.

Over the next few months, Melani and Boudreaux fought over her new beliefs.

After a fight on June 25-26, Boudreaux talked to Charles.

“I kinda felt like he was the only person who knew what I was going through, because he had also gone through those things,” Boudreaux said.

It was the last time the two spoke.

Melani and Boudreaux began the divorce process in July.

Then, in October 2019, when Boudreaux arrived home – someone in a car in front of his house, shot at him.

At the time, Boudreaux had only lived there a few days and only five people knew he lived there — his neighbors, and Melani.

As I came around the corner I noticed there was a jeep parked right in front of my driveway….and as I was starting to drive towards it, I noticed a few things that stood out to me,” Boudreaux said. “It was parked really closely, almost touching a van that had been there for a few days. It had Texas plates. No spare tire. As I drove forward, the window came up and I saw a gun with what looked like a silencer.”

He heard the bang and his window shattered at which point he pushed on the gas and drove around the corner while calling 911. 

Boudreaux met with law enforcement and a detective.

“As I was thinking about it, I realized Tylee had a jeep that Charles had bought her,” he said. 

After the shooting, Boudreaux began to dig for information. He remembered some things Charles had emailed him and found information on the religious “fireside groups” that would meet. Some info was from Chad Daybell so Boudreaux googled his name. That’s when he found an obituary for Tammy.

“It made me really nervous,” he said. “Because of how I was feeling, my nervousness, I reported it to law enforcement because in my gut something felt wrong.”

At the same time he began to look into the case of Tylee and JJ and realized no one had seen them.

A photo of Tylee was shown. Vallow Daybell looked up at the photo of Tylee and looked away.

Boudreaux still remembers the moment he heard JJ and Tylee were found.

“I was in my parents’ home in the garage,” he said, tearing up. “It was the day before my wedding.”

The next day, he came up to Rexburg instead. He was with Larry and Kay and was asked by law enforcement to identify JJ.

Defense attorney John Thomas cross examined Boudreaux.

Thomas asked about the shooting incident and how far his car was from the jeep when the shot went off.

Boudreaux said the car was parked approximately 20-30 feet away but said he is positive that the shot came from the jeep, not a stray. He did not see a muzzle flash but did see a silencer.

“It’s not possible the shot came from somewhere else though,” Boudreaux said.

When asked why he identified JJ, Boudreaux said that law enforcement had initially asked Larry to identify JJ, but it was overwhelming so he (Boudreaux) volunteered to do it.

The trial will continue Tuesday.

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Two witnesses cry on the stand in Lori Vallow Trial: a recap of the day