An Oak Harbor man who killed his two grandfathers in 2011 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison will return to an Island County courtroom.
The state Appeals Court recently reversed Joshua Lambert’s convictions for the “felony murder” of 80-year-old August Eisner and the first-degree burglary of his parents’ house. 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.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who tried the case, said he doesn’t plan to appeal the opinion to the state Supreme Court.
“It’s a very tough decision to receive, given the horrific nature of the murders and the deep wounds inflicted on the family and the community,” he said, but adding that he believes the opinion was legally correct.
Lambert and his attorneys, however, may choose to ask the Appeals Court to reconsider portions of the opinion that went against them or appeal those issues to the state Supreme Court.
Eventually, though, Lambert must return to Island County Superior Court, whether it’s for a new trial or re-sentencing.
No matter what, Lambert will stay behind bars for many decades to come. Even if he’s re-sentenced without the Eisner murder conviction, Lambert faces a lengthy minimum sentence, Banks said.
Lambert’s appellate attorneys argued a series of issues on appeal, including whether his right to self-representation was inappropriately revoked.
The defense attorneys were successful in the argument over the Eisner murder conviction. For strategic reasons, Banks charged Lambert with two alternative means for first-degree murder — premeditated murder and felony murder predicated on burglary in the first degree. To convict Lambert of felony murder, the prosecutor had to prove that the murder was convicted “during the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate flight from the crime of burglary in the first degree.”
The problem, Banks said, is that Lambert testified he entered his parent’s house prior to confronting Eisner, which then means the murder doesn’t fit with the definition.
Since the trial judge instructed the jury that it need not be unanimous on which alternative means of murder they were convicting Lambert of, the murder conviction was dismissed.