Lori Vallow’s attorney Mark Means has written a five-page response to a recent letter sent by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its leaders. In it, he called the First Presidency letter “at least disturbing and at worse, criminal.”
On Aug. 4, LDS First Presidency members Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring sent a letter to church leaders reminding them of the church’s policy regarding involvement in legal proceedings.
“We remind leaders and members of a long-standing policy that Church leaders should not involve themselves in civil or criminal cases regarding members in their units, quorums or organizations without first consulting with Church legal counsel,” the letter first reported by Fox 13 states.
The letter goes on to warn leaders of the repercussions of doing so.
“However well intentioned, Church leaders sharing information in legal proceedings can sometimes be misinterpreted and even damaging,” the letter states.
Means believes the letter was intentionally sent to disrupt his client’s legal proceedings. While the LDS church has sent out similar reminders in the past, Means sees the release date corresponding with the second day of Chad Daybell’s preliminary hearing as significant.
Means asserts that Vallow’s entire case has now been affected.
“By way of issuing this correspondence on the second day of preliminary hearing in the above said case (corresponding State of Idaho vs. Mrs. Lori Vallow [Daybell]) the LDS Church has told approximately twenty-six percent (26%) of the residents of the State of Idaho to contact Church legal counsel to enter into a code of silence and to only discuss their potential knowledge of this case and any other civil or criminal case after filtering said ‘knowledge’ through the lens that is the LDS Church. These LDS residents make up possible jury pool members, witnesses, judges, prosecutors, police officers, detectives, deputies, police chiefs/captains, and other elected and nonelected officials throughout the State of Idaho,” Means wrote.
Both Vallow and Daybell have identified in the past as members of the LDS church and were observed attending church worship services earlier this year in Hawaii.
Vallow and Daybell are facing felony charges involving the cover-up of the deaths of Vallow’s children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow.
The couple also is under investigation for the October 2019 death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Vallow and Daybell married 17 days after his wife of 29 years died in her sleep under what police have called suspicious causes.
The next step in the case will be arraignment hearings for both Vallow and Daybell. At their arraignments, the defendants will enter a plea. If a defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will then set a trial date.
Vallow’s arraignment will take place at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Fremont County courthouse. Daybell’s arraignment has been set for 9 a.m. Aug. 21 at the Fremont County Courthouse.