Accused grandfather killer receives a ‘standby attorney’
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
November 26, 2011 · Updated 6:13 AM
Joshua Lambert will continue acting as his own attorney in defending himself against accusations that he murdered both of his grandfathers, but now he’ll have a defense attorney to advise him about matters of law.
In addition, the 30-year-old Oak Harbor man agreed to a mental health evaluation by doctors at Western State Hospital in connection with his announced plans to mount an insanity defense.
During the unusual hearing in Island County Superior Court Monday, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks asked Judge Vickie Churchill to appoint a standby counsel to work with Lambert, who has insisted on representing himself.
While there’s normally an adversarial relationship between prosecution and defense, Banks said he’s been in an awkward position with Lambert asking him for legal help.
“It puts me in a difficult position anytime I have to advise Mr. Lambert on anything,” he said.
Banks indicated that Lambert has asked him for information which gives away his defense strategy. He said Lambert is struggling somewhat with legal procedures.
“I can see now where this thing will head,” he said.
Churchill agreed with Banks and appointed public defense attorney Peter Simpson as Lambert’s standby attorney. She questioned Lambert about the idea; he said he didn’t object as long as he’s still in charge of the case.
Banks also made a motion for Lambert to get a mental health evaluation at Western State Hospital. He indicated that it will probably be a couple of months before the hospital will have room for Lambert.
Lambert didn’t object to the motion, which Churchill approved. He had previously sent a letter to the court explaining that he wants to put on an insanity defense.
In addition, Lambert asked that his trial date be continued for six months so that he has time to “find more evidence, get statements from people.” The judge initially appeared skeptical of such an unusually long continuance, but agreed after Banks said he didn’t object.
As a result, Lambert’s trial was continued until July 10.
Lambert is accused of going on a murderous rampage Oct. 3. He allegedly stabbed to death his two grandfathers as he was searching for firearms, investigators reported.
Banks charged Lambert Oct. 5 with first-degree murder in the death of his paternal grandfather, 80-year-old George Lambert. He was also charged with kidnapping George Lambert’s sister, who lived with her brother at a home outside of Oak Harbor. He tied her up with packing tape and left her to watch her brother die, court documents state.
Investigators also named Lambert as a suspect in the stabbing death of his maternal grandfather, 80-year-old August Gene Eisner, who was killed on the same day. Eisner had been living in an apartment next to his daughter’s Hastie Lake home.
Banks said he likely won’t charge Lambert with Eisner’s murder until after receiving the results of the mental health evaluation.
“I want as much information as possible before I make a decision,” he said in an interview.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.