The prosecution rested its case Wednesday in Jeremy James Lambert’s murder trial after two days of testimony from 16 witnesses, including the state’s chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy on 25-year-old Cyan Maroney and law enforcement officers who interviewed Lambert on the night of the murder.
Dr. James Kaplan, West Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner, received Maroney’s body in the early morning hours of Oct. 3, 2011, just hours after she was stabbed 23 times with a 14-inch Winchester Bowie knife.
After reviewing his educational and employment background, as well as a few definitions about forensic pathology for the jury, a series of gruesome photos were displayed of Maroney’s mutilated 84-pound body.
Before her death, Kaplan estimated that Maroney weighed approximately 100 pounds, but because of the massive amount of blood lost, she weighed 16 pounds lighter at autopsy.
The first photo displayed was the small body bag at the medical examiner’s office, which was marked “Cyan Maroney.”
The next couple photos showed stab wounds Maroney sustained on her left arm, one of which was very wide and deep. She also had smaller cuts on her left arm, which Kaplan said indicated Maroney was “trying to interpose her arm between herself and her assailant.”
Kaplan added that the force and severity of these stab wounds were delivered “with the intent to murder, in my opinion.”
A close up shot of the left side of Maroney’s face was then displayed; a long, deep cut was shown from above her eyebrow down to her cheekbone. Kaplan said this cut actually scraped her skull.
A series of “fine, parallel” cuts could be seen on the left side of her neck, which Kaplan said could have been from the suspect threatening Maroney with the knife.
Maroney’s back side, covered in blood and 12 “large, gaping stab wounds,” was then shown to the jury. One 8-inch wound was so deep, Kaplan said part of the weapon reached the front part of her chest.
Kaplan said Maroney probably turned away from her assailant, which he said is a defense mechanism for stabbing victims.
Her thoracic aorta was completely severed, one of her ribs was fractured from a knife thrust, her lungs were punctured and her liver sustained multiple punctures.
The word “overkill” was used in Kaplan’s report, which he said by definition means more injuries were inflicted upon Maroney than necessary to cause her death.
“This type of assault signifies great anger and rage,” he said.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller asked Kaplan if there was anything EMS could have done to prevent Maroney’s death; Kaplan replied, “No ... There was no way Ms. Maroney could have survived this.”
A video of Lambert entering the Beckley Walmart on Oct. 2, 2011 was then shown to the jury. Eric Basham, Walmart’s loss prevention manager at the time, provided the video to police.
He was also able to provide police with a video of Lambert purchasing the 14-inch Bowie knife from the sporting goods section, as well as him exiting the store and leaving the parking lot nearly an hour later.
In the video, Lambert is clearly shown wearing a long-sleeved black shirt with a white skull and crossbones design on the back.
After Lambert was arrested that night, his shirt was obtained for evidence. It was sent to the West Virginia State Police for DNA testing.
State Police forensic scientist David Miller and forensic DNA analyst Meredith Chambers were called as witnesses; they confirmed that Maroney’s blood was found on the shirt.
Raleigh County Chief of Detectives Larry Lilly and Detective Brian Stump were also called as witnesses to discuss Lambert’s interview, which was conducted at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office a few hours after the stabbing.
Officers said the interview was after midnight, as Lambert had been apprehended in Fayette County at 11:27 p.m.
When Lilly spoke with Lambert, he said he was “very calm” and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Stump photographed Lambert’s blood-stained hands and blood-covered black shirt, and then read Lambert his Miranda rights.
“I really don’t know exactly what’s happening,” Lambert said to the officers in the recorded interview, which was played for the jury Wednesday. “I don’t know what I’m being questioned about.”
One of the officers told him he was being questioned about a homicide in Raleigh County.
Lambert said he left his house in Oak Hill, purchased a six-pack of Bud Light beer and some gasoline and parked his car at the Crossroads Mall.
“Nothing was wrong. There was no anger or depression or anything like that,” Lambert said.
He said he received three phone calls while sitting in the parking lot, one from the mother of his son, one from his mother and a third from Maroney.
Maroney told him she was leaving work and asked him if he wanted to come to her house; he said the two had been texting that day.
He said he drove in her direction and his last memory was of her walking down the steps, until he was contacted a few hours later by police officers.
Officers asked him about the state of the relationship between him and Maroney.
“When she invited me over tonight it was an absolutely positive thing.”
He said their relationship had been “on the fringes” the past few months, as he thought she may have been seeing someone else.
But on the night she was murdered, Lambert said he left his house “with the best possible thoughts in my mind.”
He named her roommates, but said he did not recall if they were home that night. He said he was sitting in the driveway when Maroney came outside, but “I never got out of my vehicle.”
“I was there and now I’m here. What they’re saying ... there’s no way I could do something like that.”
He told police that he had drank all six of the beers he purchased, but one officer said to him, “I’ve been around a lot of drunk people, but you don’t seem drunk.”
One officer then asked him, “How do you feel now that Cyan’s dead? You know that’s why we’re here, right?”
“No, they didn’t tell me that out there,” Lambert said. “That was my girl. I loved her.”
An officer asked, “Do you carry a knife?”
“No, I’m scared to death of knives,” Lambert replied.
“I’m going to be honest with you. I think you know what happened. I think you just don’t want to tell us. What’s done is done and you need to tell us the truth.”
Lambert said, “I don’t recall doing what they say I did.”
He said he had experienced blackouts in the past and said again, “I don’t recall, but it’s apparent that I did it.”
During Stump’s testimony Wednesday, he said Lambert’s demeanor was “normal” and when Keller asked him if Lambert appeared to be under the influence, he said, “Absolutely not.”
Lambert’s defense attorney Thomas Dyer asked if Lambert’s blood alcohol content had been taken the night of the murder.
Stump said no because he and Lilly saw no reason to take it.
“Even though he said he’d been drinking?”
“He had lied also about some other questions,” Stump replied, noting that Lambert failed to mentioned his purchase at Walmart.
Dyer asked if a search warrant was obtained for the text messages Lambert referenced in the interview.
Stump said he “leafed through” them, but did not read them entirely.
Dyer also asked if Stump had found a business card for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in Lambert’s wallet.
Stump said he saw several business cards, but did not examine them thoroughly, as he was primarily interested in finding the receipt for the Walmart purchase of the Bowie knife.
Keller asked if any evidence had been collected that Lambert was suicidal or that he had made a phone call to the suicide hotline; Stump said no.
“Had he wanted to kill himself, he could have plunged that 14-inch Winchester Bowie knife into his own heart,” Keller said.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday around 4:15 p.m. The defense will present its case starting at 9 a.m. today.
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