The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 12, 2014

Life without mercy: Attorneys discuss Lambert trial verdict

Of the 50 murder cases attorney Thomas Dyer has handled, he said Jeremy Lambert was the first of his clients ever convicted of life without mercy.

Lambert, 33, of Oak Hill, was found guilty Thursday in Raleigh County Circuit Court of the first-degree murder of 25-year-old Cyan Maroney in October 2011.

Although the Clarksburg attorney is unsure if his office will be handling it, Dyer said Lambert has expressed interest in filing an appeal.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said when a defendant receives a life without mercy conviction, the appeal process is “essentially automatic.”

Defendants must appeal their cases to the West Virginia Supreme Court, which will decide whether to hear the case.

Keller said most of the time, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on this type of case, but only questions of law can come into play.

The Supreme Court must decide if the defendant was “unfairly prejudiced” in any way; however, in this case, Keller said it is her belief that there was “absolutely not” any unfair prejudice.

During the nearly two-week trial, Dyer said he and the court disagreed on several legal issues.

“I’m not suggesting the jury done anything wrong. With the evidence presented, that verdict was certainly understandable,” Dyer said.

But he said he’s “not sure the playing field was kept level.”

The evidence confirmed Lambert purchased a 14-inch Bowie knife at Walmart on Oct. 2, 2011 and stabbed his ex-girlfriend 23 times just a few hours later.

Dyer said Lambert’s guilt was never an issue during the trial; the defense was trying to prove Lambert’s post traumatic stress disorder predominated his actions.

He said he disagreed with the court in three or four areas, including restrictions placed on his expert witness’s testimony, prior court rulings that led to Lambert testifying as well as several other “academic disputes.”

Keller responded, “To the prosecution and the victim’s family, there’s nothing academic about this. This is life and death.”

Dyer said this case was especially “horrific” and it was understandably difficult to see past the brutality to get to the legal issues at hand.

But Keller believes Lambert “received more than a fair trial” and said Judge Robert A. Burnside was extremely careful and cautious.

“The judge gave the defense every opportunity to argue any point they wanted to make.”

And now that Lambert has been found guilty of the brutal stabbing death of Maroney, Keller said “he has to suffer the consequences.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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