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Judge rules Lambert is competent to stand trial

A judge ruled Friday that an accused double-murderer is competent to stand trial, but it’s up to a jury to decide if he was legally insane when he allegedly stabbed his grandfathers to death in 2011.

Joshua Lambert, 31, of Oak Harbor, is acting as his attorney and has had some unusual legal strategies, which will likely result in an unusual trial in July.

Lambert called Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks “retarded” during a recent brief on the competency issue.

During a hearing Friday, Lambert also said Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill was “dumber than a box of rocks.”

Lambert claims he is not competent to stand trial because he “can not rationally advise or assist counsel,” but at the same time he argues that he should be able to act as his own counsel, according to his “self-report.”

“My incompetence and the specific symptoms thereof are completely irrelevant to ‘pro se’ competence,” he wrote.

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 in separate residences on North Whidbey.

Lambert is asserting an insanity defense. His self-appointed mental-health expert concluded that Lambert suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was legally insane at the time of the murders.

Doctors at Western State Hospital, however, determined that Lambert’s delusions and resulting actions are likely the result of methamphetamine use.

In a recent legal maneuver, Lambert argued that he is incompetent to stand trial, which means he doesn’t have a factual and rational understanding of the charges and court proceedings, and further, that he is unable to assist his attorney in his defense.

According to his court filings, Lambert claims that he hears the prosecutor’s and the judge’s voice in his head, that he believes the purpose of the hearings are to give him “encoded and symbolic orders to kill,” and that the voices in his head make it difficult for him to comprehend what’s happening.

Banks argued that Lambert can stand trial. He cited an evaluation by a psychologist at Western State Hospital who concluded Lambert is legally competent.

“(Lambert) argued vociferously that the judge and the doctors were applying the wrong standard to him,” Banks said Monday.

“He says he may be smart and capable of representing himself, but because of his delusions, he does not have the ‘rational understanding’ to be tried for a crime.

“It’s a strange argument, needless to say.

“He was arguing that he knows more than the doctors who evaluated him, and therefore, he was not mentally competent to stand trial.”

On Friday, Judge Churchill agreed with Banks and ruled that Lambert is competent, which means the trial can proceed.

If Lambert had been found incompetent, he would have been committed to Western State Hospital until his competency was restored. Then he would go on trial.

 

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