Convicted killer returns to court, pleads not guilty

Friday, Joshua Lambert appeared in Island County Superior Court for the first time since he was sentenced to 100 years in prison four years ago for murdering both of his grandfathers.

The state Court of Appeals remanded Lambert’s case back to superior court for a possible re-trial on one of the murder counts, as well as a burglary charge, and re-sentencing on other charges.

Lambert pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder in the first degree and burglary in the first degree.

The 36-year-old high school dropout insisted on acting as his own lawyer — as he did in the original trial — but Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill appointed Steve McKay as a standby attorney just in case things go south. The judge revoked Lambert’s right to represent himself near the end of the first trial because of his continued outbursts and inappropriate behavior; the standby attorney took over.

Lambert appeared calm and lucid in court Friday. But because of his history of violence, five officers stood guard in the courtroom.

The Appeals Court last year reversed his convictions for the “felony murder” of 80-year-old August Eisner and the first-degree burglary of his parents’ house in 2011. His convictions for the murder of his other grandfather, 80-year-old George Lambert, and the kidnapping of his great aunt and several other counts were affirmed by the court.

Lambert has to be re-sentenced on the charges that were affirmed.

His sentencing was set for March 23. His re-trial was tentatively scheduled for May 15.

The sentencing was somewhat delayed because Lambert asked for a pre-sentencing report from the state. He said the report would describe his mental illness, which may mitigate his sentence. He said a doctor diagnosed him with “schizophrenia continuance.”

“I was in a mental facility for more than six months,” he said.

During the 2013 trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Lambert may have been using methamphetamine when he committed the crime.

Court documents say that on Oct. 3, 2011, Lambert went to the Oak Harbor house of his paternal grandfather, George Lambert, to steal guns. He brutally murdered his grandfather with a pocket knife, tied up his great aunt and stole her car.

Continuing his search for guns, Lambert drove to his parents’ house a few miles away.

He confronted his maternal grandfather, Eisner, and demanded keys to a garage that contained a gun safe. When the elderly man refused, Lambert brutally murdered him with the same knife.

Lambert claimed he was in the midst of a complex delusion when he committed the murders.

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
                                Convicted killer Joshua Lambert appears in Island County Superior Court Friday. The Court of Appeals reversed one of his murder convictions.

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times Convicted killer Joshua Lambert appears in Island County Superior Court Friday. The Court of Appeals reversed one of his murder convictions.

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