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Lambert sentenced to 100 years for two murders
Joshua Lambert is a “walking time bomb” and a meth-abusing, anti-social narcissist who should never be free again.
That was the summation offered by Judge Vickie Churchill before she handed the double murderer a sentence that will ensure he dies in prison.
Nobody — not even Lambert or his attorney — asked for any mercy or sympathy during the hearing Tuesday in Island County Superior Court.
And Lambert got none.
Churchill followed Prosecutor Greg Banks’ recommendation and gave 32-year-old Lambert an exceptional sentence of 100 years, a number that Banks said was symbolic of the “horrific” nature of the crimes.
“I have noticed, Mr. Lambert, during the jury trial, you were unable to look at the photographs of your grandfathers and face the horror of what you did to them,” Churchill said. “For the rest or your life, may their faces as they are shown in those photographs stare at you out of the dark.
“Remember what you did to them.”
A jury convicted Lambert last month of stabbing and slashing to death his two 80-year-old grandfathers, George Lambert and August Eugene “Sonny” Eisner, as well as kidnapping his great aunt on North Whidbey on Oct. 3, 2011.
Lambert claimed he was legally insane. He acted as his own attorney until numerous outbursts, culminating in a courtroom brawl with guards, prompted the judge to order the standby attorney to take over halfway through the trial.
Banks presented evidence at trial, including testimony from two mental-health experts, that Lambert has a anti-social personality disorder and went on the killing spree fueled by methamphetamine.
The jury believed the prosecution’s version of events and found Lambert guilty of all eight counts against him, including two counts of first-degree murder.
Lambert spoke briefly on his own behalf Tuesday. He was shackled and wearing a blue face mask to prevent him from spitting on anyone.
“I’m really sorry for what happened,” he said. “I didn’t mean for that to happen and I wish that didn’t happen.”
Banks noted that the courtroom was filled with family and friends of the victims, as well as a few jurors, who came to see justice served. He said he was keeping his remarks short since Churchill was well aware of the facts.
“Mr. Lambert has a hair trigger,” Banks said. “He’s exceptionally dangerous. He is deserving of a sentence that ensures he is never released from prison, never permitted again to be in free society.”
Banks said the 100-year sentence has “symbolic value” in that nobody with living memory of the crimes will be alive when the sentence runs its course.
Lambert’s great-aunt, Kay Gage, spoke at the hearing and asked that he receive the maximum sentence. She was at home with her brother, George Lambert, when Joshua Lambert murdered him and tied her up with packing tape while he ransacked bedrooms in a search for guns.
Gage described her brother as “one of the nicest, most giving guys you will ever know.”
“I will always have good memories,” she said, “but I will never get over seeing my brother die on the floor beside me.”
Lambert’s sister, Crystal, spoke about the devastating effect the crimes have had on the family, especially Lambert’s two children.
“You took both of my grandpas from me in one day in a horrific manner which is unimaginable to me,” she said. “They loved you so much. Papa would do anything for you.”
Eisner’s son, August, read a letter from his daughter. She mourned the fact that her unborn child will never get to know her grandfather. She wrote that she hopes Lambert will seek forgiveness from God so that he will be able to go to heaven and “look papa in the face and tell him how sorry you are.”
Lambert’s attorney, Tom Pacher of Coupeville, didn’t have anything good to say about his client. He urged Churchill to give Lambert a sentence within the standard range, which is still a virtual life sentence.
“It seems kind of silly to me to hand Mr. Lambert something to appeal,” he said.
Churchill, however, concluded Lambert is deserving of an exceptional sentence, which is possible because the jury found that the elderly victims were “especially vulnerable” and that Lambert abused a position of trust.
Many in the audience started weeping as she spoke.
“I have thought long about what to say at sentencing,” Churchill said, “but I have come to the conclusion that anything I say to the defendant will make no difference. He will continue to believe what he believes, he will continue to act the way he acts.”
Churchill motioned to a giant pile of files, explaining that she’s had to read many thousands of pages of documents that Lambert filed during the nearly two years preceding the trial. She said she noticed how his memories of the events evolved as he “read more mental health books, journals and publications.”
“I believe the mental health experts got it right,” she said. “He is anti-social, he is narcissistic.”
“Add to that the defendant’s heavy use of methamphetamine over the years and you have a walking time bomb. The defendant wants what he wants and when he doesn’t get it, I have seen him throw tantrums in court despite being advised over and over how to behave. Those tantrums associated with vulgar language and slander finally escalated in the trial to violence.
“He exercises no ability to control his actions or empathize with others. He simply explodes.”
Churchill then addressed the family members of the victims.
“Don’t let him harm you anymore,” she said. “Live your life with joy and purpose. Don’t let him take anything more from you than he already has.”
Churchill noted that Lambert will now get the chance to “act as his own attorney and focus attention on himself” in an appeal.
Lambert argued with the judge one last time — saying he wants to keep his documents — before the guards led him away.
He was transferred to a state prison the next day.