Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lambert

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

May 22, 2017

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
JOSHUA DAVID LAMBERT, Appellant.

          SCHINDLER, J.

         Joshua David Lambert has a history of fixating on guns while using methamphetamine. Armed with a knife on October 3, 2011, Lambert went to the house of his 80-year-old paternal grandfather George Lambert to steal guns. Lambert assaulted and brutally murdered his grandfather, tied up his 66-year-old great-aunt, and stole her car. Lambert drove to his mother's house to steal guns. Lambert confronted his 80-year-old maternal grandfather August Eisner in the driveway and demanded the keys to the garage that contained a gun safe. When Eisner refused to give him the keys, Lambert brutally murdered him. Before he was arrested, Lambert went to the apartment of an acquaintance to steal a weapon. A jury convicted Lambert of two counts of premeditated murder and felony murder in the first degree predicated on burglary in the first degree, three counts of burglary in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree, and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. Murder in the first degree and burglary in the first degree are alternative means crimes. The court instructed the jury that it need not unanimously agree on the means. Where sufficient evidence supports each of the alternative means of committing a crime, jury unanimity is not required. But where insufficient evidence supports one of the alternative means, the conviction cannot stand. Lambert contends insufficient evidence supports the felony murder convictions of George Lambert and August Eisner predicated on burglary in the first degree. Lambert also argues the to-convict jury instructions on felony murder omitted an essential element, the murder in the first degree and burglary in the first degree convictions violate double jeopardy, the court violated his constitutional right to represent himself, and the court erred by ruling on his motion to acquit by reason of insanity at the end of trial. Because insufficient evidence supports the felony murder conviction of August Eisner predicated on burglary in the first degree of the residence of Lambert's mother and stepfather, we reverse the felony murder conviction of Eisner and burglary in the first degree of the residence of Lambert's mother and stepfather. On remand, the State may retry Lambert on only premeditated murder in the first degree and burglary in the first degree on the deadly weapon prong. In all other respects, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Joshua David Lambert is the son of Rick Lambert and Susan Lambert and the father of S.L. Lambert has a history of using methamphetamine. In 2001 and 2002, Lambert was convicted of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. When S.L. was 3-years-old, the court appointed Susan Lambert and her spouse James Coffin as the legal guardians of S.L. In 2005, Lambert moved to Alaska. In March 2006, Lambert was convicted of assault in the third degree. In October or November 2010, 29-year-old Lambert returned from Alaska to live with his mother, stepfather, and 12-year-old S.L. at their residence on Hastie Lake Road in Oak Harbor, Washington. Lambert lived in a van parked in the driveway.

         In spring 2011, Susan Lambert and Coffin suspected Lambert was using drugs and were concerned about the safety of S.L. Coffin was also concerned for his own safety and "started keeping a gun in the house" and "would wear it in the house ... until Susie came home." Coffin owned several guns that he kept locked in a gun safe in the garage.

         After a fight with a neighbor, Susan told Lambert he had to leave. Coffin testified Lambert's "drinking had escalated to violence, and we couldn't have him on the property ... once he was doing violent things." Lambert sold the van and lived in a tent in a heavily wooded area located approximately 100 yards from the Hastie Lake Road residence.

         When Lambert used methamphetamine, he became paranoid, fixated on guns, and engaged in " 'gun-searching behavior.'" On October 2, 2011, Lambert stole a 12-gauge shotgun that belonged to Coffin from the garage. Lambert "sawed the shotgun off, " removed the serial number, and hid the gun in the woods.

         The next day on October 3, Lambert could not remember where he hid the shotgun. Lambert decided to walk to his uncle Jeffrey Lambert's house to "steal guns." Because "there appeared to be a whole bunch of people" at the house, Lambert decided to go to his paternal grandfather's house on Oldenburg Lane in Oak Harbor to steal guns.

         Eighty-year-old George Lambert lived with his 66-year-old sister Kay Gage at the house on Oldenburg Lane. After he suffered a "major stroke" in 2005, George had significant "mobility issues" and used a "lift chair." Lambert and his grandfather had a close relationship. Lambert would often visit his grandfather and help do yard work.

         Lambert arrived at the house at approximately 2:30 p.m. Lambert carried a folding knife in his pocket. Gage was in the driveway loading her car with items from the garage to take to storage. Gage told Lambert his grandfather was in the living room doing crossword puzzles. Lambert entered the house through the front door and immediately locked the door behind him. George Lambert was standing in front of his lift chair in the living room.

         Lambert was on a " 'mission'" to get a gun and confronted George. Lambert said, " 'I put the knife in his face, which is the universal term for freeze. And ... he wasn't scared at all. ... Not one bit of fear were in his eyes at all.'" Lambert said George " 'charged'" at him and they fought and struggled. Lambert stabbed George in the throat, nearly severing his tongue. Lambert stabbed George in the chest 27 times.

         Lambert grabbed Gage as she entered the house from the garage. Lambert took her cellphone, pushed her into the living room, hit her on the head, and bound her wrists and ankles with packing tape. Lambert demanded Gage tell him "where the guns were." Gage knew George kept a gun under his bed but did not tell Lambert about the gun or that she and George switched bedrooms. Lambert "started going through the house and yelling and tearing things ... out of closets." Gage said when Lambert "couldn't find the weapons, " she recalled seeing "two guns that were ... in the garage.... [A]n air gun and a BB[1]' gun." Gage told Lambert she "remembered ... [t]here were rifles in the garage." Lambert demanded Gage give him the keys to her car. After finding " 'the pellet rifle'" and ammunition in the garage, Lambert left.

         Lambert drove to his mother's house on Hastie Lake Road because he "knew there were guns there." Susan Lambert's 80-year-old father August Eisner lived in an apartment above the garage. Lambert searched the house for firearms. While he was in the bedroom, Lambert saw his grandfather outside in the driveway. Lambert left the house and confronted Eisner in the driveway. Lambert told Eisner he" 'needed the key'" to the garage because" 'the garage was locked'" and there were " 'guns and the cases in the garage.'" Eisner refused to give him the keys to the garage. According to Lambert, Eisner" 'said, "No. You're not allowed in the garage."'" Lambert" 'put the knife in his face'" and Eisner lunged at him. Lambert stabbed Eisner in the neck, severing his carotid artery. Lambert stabbed Eisner in the back 21 times. Lambert took the garage keys from Eisner's pocket but he could not open the gun safe.

         Lambert drove to the apartment of an acquaintance, Amber McCabe. When McCabe retuned from visiting a neighbor, she found Lambert inside holding her hunting bow. McCabe demanded he leave. Lambert "said that the police were looking for him." Lambert dropped the bow and left. As Lambert was leaving, McCabe "noticed some needles - Yellow with oranges [sic] caps on the ends of them - he had in his pocket."

         Oak Harbor Police Department officers arrested Lambert later that day. Officer Robert Mirabal found a hypodermic needle in Lambert's jacket pocket and a "[s]mall . plastic bag" of white powder in his pants pocket.

         The State charged Lambert with premeditated murder and felony murder in the first degree predicated on burglary in the first degree of George Lambert, count I; premeditated murder and felony murder predicated on burglary in the first degree of August Eisner, count II; kidnapping in the first degree of Kay Gage, count III; burglary in the first degree of the residence of George Lambert and Kay Gage, count IV; taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree, count V; burglary in the first degree of the residence of Susan Lambert and James Coffin, count VI;[2] burglary in the first degree of the residence of Amber McCabe, count VII; and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, count VIII. The State alleged a deadly weapon enhancement and a number of aggravating factors.

         At the arraignment on October 17, 2011, Lambert told the court he wanted to represent himself at trial. Following an extensive colloquy, the court found Lambert knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel and granted his request to represent himself. Lambert entered a plea of not guilty. On November 21, the court appointed standby counsel to assist Lambert in preparing for trial.

         On February 6, 2012, Lambert sent a five-page handwritten confession to Detective Cecil Wallace. Lambert admits he killed George Lambert and August Eisner and " 'detain[ed]'" Kay Gage. Lambert states that he " 'thought, due to insanity, that [S.L.]'s life was in danger.'"

         On February 8, 2013, the State filed a motion for a competency evaluation of Lambert. The court ordered a competency evaluation. On February 27, Western State Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Ray Hendrickson issued a 15-page forensic mental health evaluation. Dr. Hendrickson states Lambert has a history of substance dependence and "an acknowledged history of significant and continuing drug abuse." But Dr. Hendrickson concluded his reported symptoms were "feigned."

Most of [Lambert's] currently related symptoms of a psychotic nature, if credible, are atypical and infrequently reported symptoms and symptom combinations, and represent possible feigned attempts to present with symptoms of a mental illness.

         Dr. Hendrickson diagnosed Lambert with "Substance Abuse versus Dependence (alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and hallucinogens)."

[E]ven if Mr. Lambert's expressed psychotic symptoms are genuine, they did not appear to interfere in any significant manner with his ability to function, or his ability to have a rational understanding of the court proceedings or to work with his standby attorney.

         Lambert filed a motion to obtain a second competency evaluation by Dr. Lawrence Wilson. On March 5, the court authorized the second competency evaluation. Dr. Wilson issued a report on April 16. Dr. Wilson states that although Lambert "has some deficits, " his "numerous fantasy-like claims ... add up ... to embellishment and exaggeration of whatever psychotic experiences he had in Alaska and upon returning to Washington."[3] Dr. Wilson concluded Lambert was competent to represent himself at trial.

In this case, it is my best judgment that Mr. Joshua Lambert has the Factual and Rational Understanding that is necessary to serve as his own defense counsel, and to make decisions on his own behalf. I have come to this conclusion after careful review of the case documents, an interview of adequate length of time with Mr. Lambert, and have consulted with some of the recent forensic psychiatry thinking on the topic, and make this opinion to the best of my ability.'[4]

         The court held a competency hearing on April 26. Lambert disagreed with both competency evaluations and asserted Dr. Wilson "lie[d]" in his report. The court concluded Lambert was competent to stand trial and represent himself.

The defendant, in his present mental state, does possess the basic and fundamental capacity to understand the nature of the charge against him and does possess the basic fundamental capacity of [sic] participate in his own defense.

         The court entered detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

         On June 6, Lambert filed a motion "to set a hearing for the defendant to move for an acquittal based on insanity." The State filed a motion to defer ruling on Lambert's motion to acquit until after the experts testified at trial. The court granted the State's motion.

         The jury was empaneled and the two-week trial began on July 10, 2013. Lambert reserved opening statement until the defense case. The State called a number of witnesses in its case-in-chief, including Kay Gage, Susan Lambert, James Coffin, Amber McCabe, the Island County Coroner, Washington State Patrol Crime Lab (WSPCL) forensic scientists, and police officers and detectives.

         Lambert stipulated that he had previously been convicted of a felony. The police testified they found the shotgun Lambert stole from Coffin on October 2, 2011, in the woods near the residence on Hastie Lake Road.

         Gage testified that her brother George and Lambert had a very close relationship. George "loved [Lambert] to death" and "would have done anything for him." Gage said George and Lambert "enjoy[ed] each other's company." Lambert often came to the house to "visit" George and was always "welcome."

Q Was he there to visit you or to visit your brother?
A To visit my brother. I tended to leave the room so they could visit. He wasn't there to see me. So I just went either to my room or, you know, outside or something.

         Gage testified that on October 3, 2011, Lambert asked her where his grandfather was and started to enter the house through the garage. Gage stopped him and said, " 'Honey, go through the ... front door. He's in the living room.'" Gage testified that 5 to 10 minutes later, she entered the house through the garage. Gage testified that Lambert hit her on the head, bound her wrists and ankles with tape, demanded she tell him where the guns were located, and drove away in her car.

         Coffin testified Lambert was "allowed in the house" only "when his mother was home." Coffin testified he kept his guns in a locked gun safe in the garage. Coffin said he installed a deadbolt on the garage door and "always" kept the door locked "specifically ... to keep [Lambert] out of the garage." Coffin testified that when he arrived home from work on October 3, he saw Eisner on the ground in the driveway with a "large gash on his throat that had bled dry."

         WSPCL forensic scientist Daniel Van Wyk testified that the white powder the police seized from Lambert's pocket was a substance "very frequently [used] as a cutting agent for methamphetamine, " dimethyl sulfone.

         WSPCL forensic scientist Mariah Low testified there were "blood stain swipes" on the garage door of the Hastie Lake Road residence. Low testified there was blood on a light switch inside the garage and "bloody shoe prints or boot prints" on the garage floor. There were bloodstains on the door of the main residence and "bloody footwear impressions also at the base of the door." Low described "blood marks that go around a kitchen area and then up the stairs into a bedroom."

         Susan testified that Lambert called her several times on October 3, 2011. The first call was at 7:30 a.m. Lambert wanted to talk to S.L. Susan Lambert told him S.L. "didn't want to talk to him." The next call was "shortly after 2:30." Susan Lambert said she "noticed ... it was Aunt Kay's number" but when she answered, "it was [Lambert]." Susan asked Lambert if he was over at the house helping his grandfather George.

And when I answered, it was him. And I said, "Oh, well, hi." I said, "Are you helping Pops?"
I assumed that he was over there and he asked to use her phone.
You know, we talked about him helping Pops trim the fruit trees. And I - I made an assumption that that - that's what he was doing.

         Susan said that during the conversation, she was not "alarmed at all by anything that was happening."

         Island County Coroner Dr. Robert Bishop testified George Lambert suffered blunt force trauma to the face and stab wounds to the neck and chest. Dr. Bishop said George sustained "ecchymosis or bruising around the eyes from blunt force trauma. Layman's term would be black eyes." Dr. Bishop said George Lambert also showed signs of "[b]lunt force trauma all around both cheeks and the chin and mouth." Dr. Bishop testified the stab wound to the neck "transected" the carotid artery, "injured the jugular vein, " and "half-transected" George's tongue. Dr. Bishop said the stab wounds to George's chest punctured his liver and lungs "multiple times."

         Dr. Bishop testified August Eisner suffered a stab wound to his neck that "completely transected and... exposed" the carotid artery and multiple stab wounds to the back. Dr. Bishop testified that an individual with a severed carotid artery can "have . as much as 20, 25 seconds of consciousness." Dr. Bishop estimated that Eisner died at approximately 3:00 p.m. on October 3.

         The court admitted into evidence recordings of several conversations between Lambert and his mother while Lambert was in jail. The State played portions of the recorded conversations for the jury. On October 8, 2011, Susan tells Lambert that "they know you were on something" and asks him what he was "on." Lambert replies that he "can't talk about too many details of the case" and changes the subject. Later in the conversation, Lambert describes the "whole day" as a "trip." Lambert tells Susan he does not "know how I got to that point." Susan responds, "Drugs."[5]

         In an October 14 phone call, Lambert tells Susan Lambert there is "a dirty needle" in a duffle bag on the side of her house and asks her to throw it away. In an October 19 recording, Lambert tells Susan Lambert he repeatedly stabbed George Lambert and August Eisner "because they weren't dying right away" and he "was trying to get them to die."

SUSAN LAMBERT: ... The coroner's report says you stabbed each grandpa at least 30 times.
JOSHUA D. LAMBERT: Well, actually, that was because they weren't dying right away. And I couldn't stand to sit there and watch them slowly die. That's why I- That's why I kept stabbing them. Because I never killed anybody before. I don't know how.
That's why- I slit their throat, but they won't- When they're in the movies, you slit their throat, they drop down dead right away.
They weren't dropping down dead. They're sitting there looking up at me, moving around. Ah. And it's - it's - it's- It is horrible.
That's why- That's why there's so many stab wounds. Because I was trying to get them to die; not - not sit there slowly die. Not sit there slowly in pain.

         The court admitted into evidence Lambert's five-page handwritten confession. Detective Wallace read the handwritten confession Lambert sent to him to the jury. Lambert states killing George Lambert and August Eisner was " 'the fastest way to a firearm.'" Lambert states that" 'due to insanity, '" he believed S.L's life was in danger.[6] Lambert admits stabbing George to death[7] and says he stabbed Eisner in the driveway because he would not provide the key to his mother's garage. Lambert states he would have " 'killed just about anybody to arm myself.'"

"I don't want you to think hallucinations ordered me to kill my grandpas. It was, honestly, the fastest way to a firearm to save [S.L.].
"If it was somebody in the way of a firearm, ... I'd have killed them if I thought they were jeopardizing the safety of [S.L.] in the situation. I'd have killed just about anybody to arm myself to save [S.L.] from this torturous death."

         In his opening statement, Lambert told the jury the evidence would show that on October 3, 2011, he was "legally insane."

         Lambert testified he took methamphetamine intravenously and kept needles at Susan Lambert's house. Lambert said he hears voices "pretty much constantly" and was "in some form of hallucination during the murders." Lambert described previous hallucinations and the hallucinations he experienced on the day of the murders in detail.

         Lambert testified that on October 3, he went to his uncle Jeffrey Lambert's home "and tried to steal guns there" but left because there would be "[t]oo much resistance" and he "wouldn't have been successful."

         Lambert said he took a bus to his grandfather George Lambert's house. Lambert testified he "was planning on breaking in" and "was going there ... to steal a gun." Lambert said he tried to tie up George but stabbed him because "[t]here was some resistance." Lambert admitted he already had his folding knife "open in my pocket" when he entered George Lambert's house. Lambert said the first wound to George "wasn't aimed at anything" and "couldn't have been lethal really, " but the "other ones were aimed at the veins" and "cutting someone's throat" with a knife is a fatal wound.

         Lambert testified that he drove his great-aunt's car to his mother's house on Hastie Lake Road. Lambert said he searched the house "trying to find a gun." Lambert said that while he was inside the house, he saw his grandfather August Eisner in the driveway.

Q Did he come down the stairs while you were out in the driveway or where did you meet?
A I was in my mom's room and I seen him out the window.
Q So you had already- You were in the main house?
A (Nods.)

Lambert testified he was still carrying the same knife that he used to kill George Lambert. Lambert testified that when he confronted Eisner, he "put the knife ... on him ... to get him to freeze." But Eisner "jerked his arms up really fast."

         On cross-examination, Lambert admitted he had a fascination with guns when he used methamphetamine. "I liked to clean [guns] when I was on meth. So when I was doing meth, I -1 would have [guns] out all tooken [sic] apart and stuff." Lambert said he "would bring [guns] out and load them sometimes when I was on meth" because he "would get paranoid on meth."

         Lambert called several police officers to testify as well as defense psychologist Dr. Robert Deutsch, Dr. Wilson, and Island County Coroner Dr. Bishop.

         Dr. Deutsch testified that in his opinion, Lambert was "suffering from a long-standing, deeply ingrained psychotic disorder." Dr. Deutsch said that on October 3, 2011, Lambert "was in the throes of an intense paranoid delusional system." According to Dr. Deutsch, Lambert became "obsessed" with a "paranoid delusion that [S.L.] had been kidnapped." But Dr. Deutsch admitted Lambert was "overemphasizing or embellishing or exaggerating, misrepresenting" his symptoms. Dr. Deutsch testified that on October 3, 2011, Lambert knew what "the law of the land was, but... he believed that the law was suspended for him." Dr. Deutsch said that in his opinion, Lambert "believed he was doing the morally right thing."

         Dr. Wilson testified he was "quite interested and amazed" by how much Lambert had learned about mental health issues. Dr. Wilson said Lambert did "a good bit of study" and read multiple Internet articles and a forensic psychiatry journal. Dr. Wilson stated that the symptoms Lambert reported during his competency evaluation were " 'not typical of usual schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions'" and could be '"faked."'

"Many of his reported symptoms are clearly psychotic in nature, but are not typical of usual schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions. For example, schizophrenic hallucinations do not usually manifest such a vast range of voices that command the afflicted person to perform such a wide range of actions mainly of a violent and/or shocking nature. These could represent a faked attempt to exaggerate the experience he had during his earlier brief psychotic episodes with methamphetamine or psychedelic drugs or flagrant sham symptoms of how he presumes severe mental illness is actually experienced by an average person."

         In rebuttal, the State called Western State Hospital forensic psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Dean and psychologist Dr. Brian Judd. Dr. Dean testified Lambert was probably in a "substance-induced psychotic episode" on October 3, 2011. Dr. Dean said substance-induced psychotic episodes "are not the result of a major mental illness, ... but are solely the result of voluntary use of a drug." Dr. Dean concluded Lambert was "malingering, " or intentionally "feigning or exaggerati[ng] or faking ... mental health symptoms in order to obtain a certain definite goal." Dr. Dean described a number of reasons to support her conclusion that Lambert was malingering, including "repeatedly tr[ying] to control the content and process of the interviews" and reading from "copious notes" to describe the events of October 3 during interviews. Dr. Dean testified that it was her "medical opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that Mr. Lambert does not qualify for an affirmative defense of being found not guilty by reason of insanity."

         Dr. Judd testified that he diagnosed Lambert with an "[a]mphetamine-induced psychotic disorder with delusions with onset during withdrawal." Dr. Judd testified that psychiatric testing "came out very, very high indicating that [Lambert] was exaggerating symptoms." Dr. Judd stated Lambert was "endorsing .... symptoms that are seldom seen in genuinely psychiatrically impaired populations." Dr. Judd stated Lambert's former girlfriend, Jackie Wallace, described her "observations of [Lambert] using methamphetamine." Wallace told Dr. Judd that when Lambert" 'starts coming down from a meth binge, he would become paranoid and engage in gun-searching behavior. He would collect firearms.'" Dr. Judd testified that in his opinion, Lambert "was able to understand the nature and the quality" of his acts and "could tell right from wrong" on the day of the murders.

         At the conclusion of the evidence, the court ruled Lambert did not meet his burden to show he was not guilty by reason of insanity. The to-convict jury instruction on murder in the first degree states, in pertinent part:

To return a verdict of guilty, the jury need not be unanimous as to which of alternatives (2)(a) [(the defendant acted with premeditated intent)] or (2)(b) [(the defendant caused the death . . . [d]uring the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate! ]flight from the commission of burglary in the first degree)] has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, as long as each juror finds that at least one alternative has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

         The jury returned a verdict finding Lambert guilty of murder in the first degree of George Lambert, murder in the first degree of August Eisner, kidnapping in the first . degree of Kay Gage, burglary in the first degree of the residence of George Lambert and Kay Gage, taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree, burglary in the first degree of the residence of Susan Lambert and James Coffin, burglary in the first degree of the residence of Amber McCabe, and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. By special verdict, the jury found Lambert was armed with a deadly weapon at the time he committed murder in the first degree of George Lambert and August Eisner, kidnapping Kay Gage, burglary in the first degree of the residence of George Lambert and Kay Gage, and burglary in the first degree of the residence of Susan Lambert and James ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.