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Lambert’s defense hazy for upcoming trial

Joshua Lambert argues over evidence during a hearing in Island County Superior Court last week. He’s charged with two murders and is acting as his own attorney - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Joshua Lambert argues over evidence during a hearing in Island County Superior Court last week. He’s charged with two murders and is acting as his own attorney
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Based on recent hearings, the trial of a 31-year-old man is shaping up to be a very complicated matter.

Joshua Lambert, who’s facing murder and kidnapping charges, is scheduled for trial Tuesday, Nov. 27. He’s acting as his own attorney and is presenting an insanity defense; they are relatively rare in Washington state, where the burden of proof is on the defense.

But with the trial less than a month away, the details of Lambert’s defense are still unclear. He was in Island County Superior Court twice last week to discuss a motion to compel from Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who wants the report and diagnosis from Lambert’s psychologist.

“I’m sort of in limbo,” Banks told Judge Vickie Churchill last Tuesday.

Banks said it appears Lambert is shifting his defense from insanity to diminished capacity, which is essentially an argument that a defendant lacks the ability to form the mental state necessary to commit the charged crime.

Lambert, however, said the psychologist can’t complete his report until he receives all the information relevant to Lambert’s mental status. He said he wanted to interview guards who’ve witnessed his behavior in jail.

In another twist, Lambert has subpoenaed his own psychologist, Dr. Robert Deutsch, for his notes and Deutsch has filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

In addition, Lambert said his investigator needs to get hold of his ex-girlfriend, who is in Alaska.

“She has seen me wake up out of a dead sleep and attack people twice,” he said.

In court, Lambert also suggested that he may have a “split personality.”

In a letter to the Whidbey News-Times, Lambert said his doctor diagnosed him with “pre-existing schizophrenia and pre-existing delusions.”

Banks said he needs to know the specifics of Lambert’s defense as soon as possible, especially since he may have to send him back to Western State Hospital for another psychiatric exam.

In addition to the questions about evidence, the court has had issues with Lambert’s behavior.

At a hearing a couple of weeks ago, Lambert became very upset when the judge refused to delay the trial. He started yelling, swearing and threatened to refuse to take part in the trial. He called Churchill “a liar.”

During the Oct. 30 hearing, Churchill gave him a warning, referring to the previous hearing.

“I’m getting very close to saying you can’t represent yourself because of your behavior,” she said.

Lambert is accused of stabbing to death his paternal grandfather, George Lambert, tying up his great aunt, Kay Gage, and then stabbing to death his maternal grandfather, August Eugene “Sonny” Eisner, on Oct. 3, 2011. His grandfathers were both 80 years old and lived on North Whidbey.

 

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