No death penalty for man accused of killing both grandfathers

  • Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 7:24pm
  • News

By Rikki King Herald Writer

COUPEVILLE — Prosecutors in Island County have decided not to seek the death penalty against an Oak Harbor man accused of killing his two grandfathers in October.

Prosecutors expect to file amended criminal charges against Joshua D. Lambert, 31, next week.

They allege that Lambert fatally stabbed George Lambert, 80, and August “Gene” Eisner, 80, during separate attacks in the Oak Harbor area. During one attack, Joshua Lambert also reportedly tied up and struck another relative, who survived.

State law allows the death penalty when someone is convicted of aggravated first-degree murder, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said.

Banks believes a jury could decide one or both of the killings were premeditated, which would be an aggravating circumstance.

However, Banks said he believes a jury would have a difficult time ruling out the possibility that Joshua Lambert’s mental state affected his alleged actions. State law lists “extreme mental disturbance” as a mitigating factor in death-penalty cases.

Before making his decision, Banks met with both victims’ families at length, he said. He also spoke with other prosecutors who are experienced in death penalty trials and reviewed hundreds of cases.

Most of the victims’ family members agreed with his decision, Banks said.

In addition, capital murder cases can last more than decade and include repeated appeals, Banks said. Victims’ family members could be compelled to testify repeatedly.

“In conclusion, I have determined that justice will best be served in this case by seeking a prison term that will ensure Mr. Lambert is never returned to free society,” he said.

Lambert is being held without bail. He has felony convictions for illegal possession of a firearm and malicious mischief. He has misdemeanor assault and theft convictions and served time in prison for felony assault with a weapon.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com