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Jury begins deliberations in Laurie Vallo Debell’s murder trial

The jury in the trial of Laurie Vallo Debell, charged with murder in the deaths of her two children and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her husband’s first wife, began deliberations Thursday as her week-long trial concluded in Boise, Idaho. .

Vallo Debell, who did not take the stand in her own defense, is accused of killing her two children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallo, who were last seen in September 2019. Valo Debell married her current husband Chad Debell in November, just two weeks after Debell’s first wife, Tammy, died.

Kids Killed Doomsday Plot Trial

Laurie Vallo Debell sits in a police car after a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse on August 16, 2022 in St. Anthony, Idaho.

Tony Blakeslee / AP

Prosecutors said the couple used a “doomsday” belief involving zombies to justify killing the children and Tammy Debell.

A few months later, the children’s remains were buried on the Debelle property.

Lori Valo Debell and Chad Debell were each arrested in 2020 and eventually charged in 2021. In addition to being charged with manslaughter in the deaths of her children, Valo Debell is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in their deaths and the death of Tammy Debell, and grand theft for allegedly paying Social Security on behalf of her children. Both Valo Debell and Debell have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors, who called about 60 witnesses, built their case by talking about Valo Debel. Drive for money, power and sex. The couple’s fringe religious beliefs were at the center of the case, as witnesses testified to their belief in light and dark spirits, the ability to “cast out” spirits and cause spiritual suffering, and their marriage in past lives. Prosecutor Rob Wood invoked those three threads in the state’s closing Thursday, telling jurors that he and Chad Debell were driven to remove barriers that prevented them from being together.

Their religious beliefs didn’t matter — but they used them to manipulate their friends, he argued, and Valo Debel used what he called emotional and sexual control over Chad Debel.

And she learned her lesson from the death of her husband, Charles Vallo, who changed the beneficiary of his life insurance to his sister instead of his wife, hiding the deaths of Tylee and JJ so he could collect their checks, Wood said.

The defense, which called no witnesses, argued that Valo Debel had the freedom to choose and practice his religion and that there was insufficient evidence to link Valo Debel to the alleged crimes.

Defense attorney Jim Archibald, in his closing arguments Thursday, cast Valo DeBelle as a devoted mother who fell in love with Chad DeBelle — whom he characterized as a bankrupt writer who wasn’t very successful at attracting religious followers, undercutting the prosecution’s argument for the murder. Was motivated by money or power.

He argued that he wanted to be with Debelle, who was telling him that she was a goddess and that they were married in a past life, but did not plan to kill her children.

He pointed to Debell and Alex Cox, Vallo Debell’s brothers, as he argued that the evidence did not prove that Vallo was involved in the Debell murder.

Of the 15,000 texts in evidence, he argued, not one of them was from Valo Debel, asking about when they were killing children.

Although the couple were charged together, their trials have been separated and Chad Debell is expected to stand trial at a later date. He faces the death penalty, but Judge Steven Boyce Taking the death penalty off the table In case of valo debel.

The day began with Boyce instructing the 10 men and eight women who have been selected for the jury that has heard weeks of trial testimony, walking them through the questions they must consider in reaching a verdict. After concluding the arguments, Boyce deliberately selected 12 jurors by random draw, the rest being alternates.

Boyce, who did not allow cameras in the courtroom or live video or audio of the trial, ruled earlier this week that the court Roy live stream In this case.

Anam Siddique and Gabriela Demirdjian contributed to this report.

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