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Lori Vallow will no longer face the death penalty if convicted, judge rules

A judge determined due to late discovery disclosure, the death penalty will be taken off the table to ensure a fair defense.

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho — Lori Vallow will not face the death penalty if she is convicted, a judge ruled in a hearing Tuesday.

Seventh District Court Judge Steven Boyce said there was late disclosure of evidence by state prosecutors, not in a malicious way, but the case could be turned over on an appeal if there was a capital conviction. 

Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell are both charged with murder and conspiracy in the killings of Vallow's two children, 7-year-old JJ Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, along with Daybell's ex-wife, Tammy Daybell in Fremont County. Daybell's trial will be separate from his wife's.

The defense requested the death penalty be dismissed due to Vallow's mental health, media coverage and late discovery disclosure by the state -- and as a 'punishment' for the late disclosure, the court should sanction the state by ruling against the death penalty.

Boyce said there is a heightened level of scrutiny with a death penalty case.

"The court determines that the late disclosure of discovery has materially prejudiced (the right to prepare for a death defense)," Boyce said. The state turned over evidence they had to the defense on March 13, which Boyce said was too late for preparation in the midst of Vallow's trial, set to take place April 3 in Ada County.

"The court is required to fashion a remedy that honors the fundamental right to a fair trial," Boyce said. "As an appropriate discovery sanction, the state will be precluded from seeking the death penalty at trial."

Boyce said he is not punishing the state -- he doesn't believe that prosecutors intentionally kept evidence -- but rather said he is ensuring the rights of Vallow are protected so a reasonable defense can be prepared.

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