Jeremy Lambert testified in his own defense Thursday, day three of his trial in the October 2011 brutal slaying of 25-year-old Cyan Maroney.
Judge Robert A. Burnside explained to Lambert that he had the right to remain silent, but that right would be waived if he testified and he would also be required to answer questions from the prosecution.
Lambert agreed to testify and defense attorney Thomas Dyer proceeded with questions about his background.
“I had a very good home life,” Lambert said.
He grew up in Mullens and played a variety of sports, including football, basketball and baseball.
After graduating with a 3.7 GPA from Wyoming East High School, Lambert attended one semester of general studies courses at Mountain State University.
He later tried enrolling in the Registered Nursing program at Bluefield State College, but realized that funding his education would be an issue.
He decided to enlist with the U.S. Air Force and was deployed to Kuwait in December 2002 — “I was very concerned. I didn’t know what to expect.”
He told the jury about how scared he was during an attack alarm, and how he became paranoid about the translators when one of them laughed when he saw a beheading on television.
Soldiers had also been told that camels and sheep could possibly be stuffed with explosives, and Lambert said his fear only heightened when he saw animal carcasses.
After six months, he returned home from Kuwait; he said, “I didn’t want to go anywhere” and “I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything.”
He said he began drinking, which eventually led to a suicide attempt at a friend’s house in November 2003 — “A real depression came over me.”
He said he fired nine shots out of a 10-round clip in his .40-caliber Smith and Wesson, and then put the gun to his head. His friend intervened and took him to the VA hospital.
A doctor diagnosed him with anxiety and major depression, but he was released two weeks later.
He started working at a Fayette County Walmart in the sporting goods section for a while, but then accepted a position at the Beckley Walmart as a loss prevention associate.
He said he attempted suicide again, and continued having panic attacks, sleepless nights and anxiety.
At the end of 2005, Lambert tested at the Beckley Police Department and was offered a position; however, he said he “chickened out” of the training at the State Police Academy, so he was not eligible to stay with the department.
He started working as a night auditor at the Oak Hill Holiday Inn, where he met his now ex-wife. She had a daughter and when the two decided to get married, he said he wanted to join the Army to support them.
Lambert said he did not get along with the members of his platoon where he was stationed. He said he began self-mutilating and having homicidal thoughts about a major in the Army.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller objected to several of Dyer’s questions because she said they were “leading the witness” and the jury was asked to leave while the matter was discussed.
After reviewing the legal dictionary, Burnside said that leading questions “instruct the witness how to respond” and that those questions may be answered “yes” or “no.”
“The problem with leading questions are that they have the answer to the question within the question,” Burnside said.
Burnside said, “Did you go to the Grand Canyon while you were in Arizona?” would be a leading question; however, “Where did you go while you were in Arizona?” would be acceptable. He sustained Keller’s objections.
During the afternoon session, Lambert talked about how he was “constantly on edge” and his frequent visits to a VA hospital in Arizona, where he was stationed.
After a six-month psychiatric assessment, he was diagnosed with depression, post traumatic stress disorder and a personality disorder; he was given an “involuntary and honorable medical discharge” from the Army in April 2008.
He continued treatment for hallucinations, blackouts and self mutilation at a VA hospital in Arizona for some time, but eventually moved back to his mother’s home in Oak Hill.
He started dating Maroney in the summer of 2011, which included fishing trips and a lot of time outdoors.
“We had a very happy relationship,” he said, and added it was “typical, easygoing and positive.”
In September though, Maroney said the relationship was moving too fast; Lambert said after that discussion, they maintained a “close” but not “intimate” relationship.
Later that month, he said he found topless photos she had taken on her phone, but when he questioned her about them, it was resolved. “She had never given me any reason not to believe her, so I believed her 100 percent.”
On the day of Maroney’s murder, Oct. 2, Lambert said his day started with an argument with his sister. He reviewed the series of events; drinking beer at the Crossroads Mall parking lot, making plans with Maroney to go to her house and purchasing the 14-inch Bowie knife from Walmart.
He said he “wanted to have something to protect myself” because he thought an ex-boyfriend may be at Maroney’s house.
When he arrived, she came out to his car. He said she became very upset with him when she saw all the empty beer containers because he had been drinking and driving.
He said he was “in a state of panic” and “really on edge.”
After she returned inside, he said he tucked the knife in his pants against the small of his back.
“Did you have any thoughts of harming her?” Dyer asked.
The house door was unlocked, so he went inside and sat on her bed. He said he questioned her, “Where is this guy?” and she told him she didn’t know what he was talking about.
“You’re hammered. You need to go home,” Maroney told him.
“I remember standing there looking at her, then the front door, walking toward my car,” Lambert said.
He said as he was driving toward Oak Hill he called his mother and said, “I think I’ve murdered somebody. I think I might have killed Cyan.”
Dyer asked him, “Did you kill that young woman?”
“Yes, I did. I don’t remember doing it, but yes, I did.”
Lambert said he didn’t know why he did it, but “not a day goes by that I wish I could change things. I know that’s every family’s worst nightmare.”
During Keller’s cross-examination, she played a recorded interview between Lambert and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Bobby Miller.
During that interview, Lambert went into a bit more detail — He said the knife fell out of his shirt in front of Maroney. When he picked it up, she asked him, “What are you going to do with that?”
Keller asked Lambert about his self mutilation; he said he felt “euphoria” when he cut himself.
“It felt like I was letting demons out,” Lambert said. “For a while, I was convinced I was possessed by demons.”
Keller will continue her cross-examination at 9 a.m. today.
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