Jurors in the murder trial of 34-year-old Ryan Cody Lamb heard his wails and guttural screams on police body camera footage when he was told his boyfriend was dead.
That’s how the second day of the trial began Tuesday morning in the Flathead County Courthouse in Kalispell. Lamb is charged with the deliberate homicide of Ryan Nixon in the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 2018, in Kalispell.
Police officials said Lamb stabbed Nixon with a pair of scissors during a sex encounter at the Two Mile Drive residence they shared.
Kalispell Police Department Detective Ryan Bartholomew was the first witness to testify for the prosecution. County Deputy Attorney Alison Howard played the body camera footage from Bartholomew on a video screen and it wasn’t easy to listen to, as Judge Robert Allison asked for the volume to be turned down after a few minutes.
Lamb could be heard wailing, sobbing and crying while saying “Oh God,” using profanities, asking “Where is my husband,” and other unintelligible comments.
Bartholomew testified that when Lamb calmed, he asked him who killed Nixon and Lamb said it was another man. The other man was reportedly in a relationship with Nixon for several years before Lamb and Nixon engaged in a 3 1/2 year relationship that ended with Nixon’s death.
But investigators determined that the other man wasn’t in Kalispell at the time of Nixon’s death.
“I tried to console him, I held his hand and he said he killed Nixon,” Bartholomew testified.
Public defender Emily Lamson, who is representing Lamb along with Alisha Backus, asked Bartholomew if her client was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he talked to him.
“Yes. He seemed to be and he was hard to understand,” the detective said. He also said he saw fresh injuries on Lamb, alluding to marks on his chest.
Much of Tuesday’s testimony centered on the collection of evidence.
When officers responded to the apartment where the two men lived, they encountered a bloody scene.
Jordan Venezio, the day-shift patrol sergeant, said he saw blood pooling at two different locations at the scene. He said he found Nixon on his back in the bathtub with the shower running.
Body camera footage from Venezio showed an apartment in disarray, blood throughout and Nixon in the tub.
Kalispell officer Brian Struble testified that he received a call from a 911 dispatcher who told him that a North Valley Hospital employee had received a call from Lamb. The hospital employee said Lamb told him that his partner had been stabbed. He was told to call 911.
Struble also told Nixon’s mother of her son’s death after she had driven from Libby when she learned something had happened. She was very emotional and asked the officer twice if Lamb had killed her son.
Nixon’s family members were emotional in the courtroom at varying points and sometimes covered their faces when photos of him in the tub were shown.
Backus asked Struble if Lamb had blood on his face as if he had given Nixon mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and he answered yes.
Kalispell Sergeant Andrew Haag spent more than one hour on the stand. The 18-year law enforcement veteran who has been with Kalispell Police for 11 1/2 years, testified in relation to the hundreds of photos that were taken of the apartment, many showing blood on a comforter, a bowl, blood spatter on a wall and some drops on the ceiling.
Haag said officers spent 18 1/2 hour collecting evidence, which included a large knife that measured 11 inches.
There was also a fork in the kitchen sink that appeared to have blood on it. The large knife was first seen under Nixon’s body in the tub. When investigators took photos of the scene, the knife was on a ledge in the tub.
“It was likely moved by a paramedic,” Haag said.
A fair amount of testimony dealt with scissors that were found in the apartment.
What appeared to be blood was found on a pair of black-handled scissors, but there was also a pair of silver-colored scissors.
Lamb told Detective Jim Wardensky that when he found Nixon in the tub, he had a pair of scissors sticking in his chest.
Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman, who was the investigations captain at the time, said he had a brief conversation with Lamb while the search was being conducted.
“The MCU (Major Crimes Unit) said they couldn’t find the scissors and I asked Lamb where they were,” Overman said. “But he said he didn’t know where the scissors were located. He said he didn’t know if he had thrown them or they were in the sink.”
Lamb faces a maximum term of life in prison.
Jurors, nine women and five men, will hear more Wednesday with testimony expected to resume at 9 a.m.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.