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Lori Vallow found mentally competent to stand trial in murder case

The case against Vallow, who investigators say killed her children after becoming convinced that they were "zombies," has stalled for nearly a year.

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — An Idaho woman investigators say killed her two children after becoming convinced that they were "zombies" possessed by evil spirits has been ruled mentally competent to stand trial nearly a year after the criminal case against her was put on hold.

Both Lori Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, grand theft by deception, grand theft, and insurance fraud in the deaths of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow, Vallow's children from previous relationships. The children's bodies were found buried in Daybell's yard in June 2020. 

Daybell, who is also charged with murdering his then-wife Tammy Daybell the month after Vallow's children disappeared, is set for trial in January 2023. 

But the case against Vallow stalled in May 2021 when mental health evaluators determined that she was not mentally competent to stand trial.

Idaho law mandates that a defendant must be able to understand the charges against them, follow what is happening in court, and assist their lawyers in their own defense. The Gem State does not have a so-called "insanity defense," however, by which a defendant can be found not guilty of a crime due to their mental state at the time. 

Vallow has been held in a secure facility where she received mental health treatment as officials worked to restore he mental competency. 

Judge Steven Boyce ordered Monday that Vallow be set for arraignment after receiving word from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that the suspect was now mentally fit. 

"Based upon the Court’s determination that Defendant Lori Norene Vallow, aka Lori NoreneVallow Daybell, is restored to competency and is fit to proceed, the Court orders that the Defendant be brought before this Court to be arraigned," Boyce wrote. "Further, the order staying the case is hereby lifted."

Credit: KTVB
JJ Vallow (left) and Tylee Ryan

Vallow's arraignment is set for April 19. 

Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty for Daybell; it is unclear whether they will file a notice to seek the death penalty in Vallow's case as well.

Watch more on the case of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan:

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