Lori Vallow ‘fell asleep’ in court after trial shown gruesome autopsy photos

Courtroom reporters noted she was subdued for much of the afternoon, arms crossed and head down

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 12 April 2023 15:49 BST
Lori Vallow Trial: Detective presents evidence in ‘Doomsday Mom’ murder case

As an emotional day drew to a close on Tuesday, after graphic autopsy photos were shown to the court of the two children she is accused of murdering as part of a doomsday cult plot, Lori Vallow appeared to fall asleep.

Reporters present in the courtroom noted that Ms Vallow appeared to be leaning forward and looking down for much of the afternoon.

It appeared she was trying to avoid seeing the gruesome pictures of the excavation of the shallow graves of her daughter Tylee, 16, and adopted son JJ, 7, and his subsequent autopsy.

The pictures were shown during the testimony of Detective Ray Hermosillo of the Rexburg Police Department, who was heavily involved in the local search and discovery of the bodies after the children were reported missing.

After he had answered questions and provided detailed descriptions of the photos, Judge Steven Boyce called for a break to allow the tearful jury time to compose themselves.

When a brief cross-examination of Det Hermosillo began after the break, Ms Vallow appeared to fall asleep.

Gigi McKelvey of Law & Crime told Chris Cuomo on NewsNation that the defendant appeared to be asleep “for a solid 30 minutes” at the end of the day and speculated that she might have been medicated after her apparent distress following the lunch break.

After the morning’s already harrowing testimony, but ahead of the display of the photos and descriptions of what was found at the burial site in a pet cemetery at her husband Chad Daybell’s property, Ms Vallow had asked to waive her right to be present in the courtroom.

She had appeared back in the courtroom after lunch with teary eyes and a red face as if she had been crying.

Her defence team told the judge that the morning had been very hard on her and reminded Judge Boyce of her fragile mental state, but ultimately he denied the request.

As discussions were held between the two legal teams ahead of the on-the-record request to the judge, Ms Vallow was out of the court for an additional hour following the lunch break and was observed by reporters to have been crying.

McKelvey noted that she had previously not been seen to be tired at all during the trial but her subdued presence, head down, and eventual apparent sleep, indicated that she may have been medicated.

Ms Vallow’s changed demeanour after lunch was noted by other reporters in the room.  Nate Eaton of East Idaho News tweeted: “During previous breaks, Lori has smiled and laughed with her attorneys. This break she is quiet, stoic, scowling, saying nothing.”

In additional to the charges of murdering the two children, Ms Vallow and her husband Mr Daybell are also facing conspiracy to murder charges in Arizona for Ms Vallow’s previous husband Charles Vallow’s fatal shooting by her brother Alex Cox during a supposed domestic argument.

Cox claimed he acted in self-defence before his death in December 2019.

Prosecutors alleged during opening arguments on Monday that Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell conspired with Cox to murder Tammy Daybell, JJ and Tylee as part of their doomsday cult beliefs and for their financial purposes.

Ms Daybell is scheduled to face trial later this year, after requesting to be tried separately from his wife. Mr Cox died of a blood clot in December 2019.

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