Lori Daybell's attorney claims clinician manipulated case by asking her to call church lawyers

Defense attorney Mark Means appears in court with Lori Vallow Daybell during a March 2020 hearing. Means claims that a clinician at the Idaho State Hospital manipulated her criminal case by assigning her "homework" to call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for legal advice.

Defense attorney Mark Means appears in court with Lori Vallow Daybell during a March 2020 hearing. Means claims that a clinician at the Idaho State Hospital manipulated her criminal case by assigning her "homework" to call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for legal advice. (John Roark)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Lori Vallow Daybell's attorney claims in new court documents that a clinician at the Idaho State Hospital manipulated her criminal case by assigning her "homework" to call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for legal advice.

Daybell is at a mental hospital since an Idaho court determined she is not currently competent to stand trial for charges involving the murder of her two children, and her husband's former wife.

In the motion, Means claims a clinician with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare identified only as "N.C." suggested, while watching a court hearing for Daybell's husband Chad Daybell with her, that she call the church's legal counsel to discuss her case and possibly "obtain legal counsel to assist her instead of state-appointed public defender."

Means said he learned about the calls while visiting with his client on Oct. 15. He says Daybell only called the church because it was a "mandatory homework assignment" and she would not have made the call if it were not for the clinician's "prodding," the motion states, adding that N.C. also gave her a phone number for the church.

A church receptionist forwarded Daybell's call to Daniel McConkie with the law firm Kirton McConkie, a firm used by the church. The motion claims McConkie talked about his experience as an attorney and as a prosecutor and told her he knew "every detail of her case. This led (Daybell) to make disclosures she would not have without these assurances."

Means also claims that McConkie said he would help her find an attorney who could practice law in Idaho and give her a call back, but instead McConkie called a prosecutor in the case, Rob Wood.

Robert D. Walker, president of Kirton McConkie, confirmed in a statement Thursday that it did receive an "unsolicited call" from Daybell on Oct. 6.

"Kirton McConkie informed Mrs. Daybell that it could not provide advice or representation and directed her to the state bar of Idaho or the court if she needs assistance in finding an attorney. Subsequent calls with her counsel and the prosecutor confirmed the unsolicited contact," Walker said.

Means' motion seeks to depose McConkie, Wood and N.C., obtain any records of communications between McConkie and Wood, and stop N.C. from treating Daybell.

"This behavior by those with power and authority over the defendant are believed to have engaged in unethical (legal and psychological rules of ethics), possible illegal actions and or violations that drastically affect the due process rights of the defendant. These behaviors are, as they appear, (an) abhorrent and blatant manipulation of the incompetent defendant," the motion states.

Prosecutors Wood and Lindsey Blake called the claims in Means' motion "unfounded" and said they will address them in court.

"Filings of this nature are traditionally sealed and handled in confidential proceedings. Litigating such matters publicly can compromise both parties' right to fair trial and compromise various individuals' rights to privacy. The mental health issues and investigations are not suited for the court of public opinion," the prosecutors said in a joint prepared statement.

Court and police records have painted a portrait of Lori Daybell as someone who became enamored with the doomsday teachings of Chad Daybell, an author of several novels with apocalyptic scenarios. She described her children as "zombies" whose bodies were overtaken by dark spirits that could only be vanquished by death, according to the documents.

The remains of her two children were uncovered last year at the Salem, Idaho, property of her new husband, Chad Daybell. "JJ" Vallow, was 7 years old when he went missing in September 2019; Tylee Ryan, Lori Daybell's daughter, was 16. Their mother and Chad Daybell face charges of murder and conspiracy in the cases that have delved into their apocalyptic religious beliefs and the mysterious deaths of both of their former spouses.

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