Testimony concludes in Lamb murder trial

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Testimony ended on the eighth day of the Ryan Lamb murder trial Wednesday in Flathead County District Court.

Thursday morning the defense and prosecution will present their closing statements and the jury will get its instructions.

Judge Robert Allison said he hoped the jury would begin deliberations by late morning or early afternoon on Thursday.

Lamb is facing one felony count of deliberate homicide in the death of Ryan Nixon in August 2018. Prosecutors say Nixon died of three stab wounds from a pair of scissors allegedly wielded by Lamb.

During the final day of testimony in the case against Lamb, the defendant’s aunt talked about her concern for him.

Maria Lamb told the jury of nine women and five men she was concerned Nixon would kill her nephew.

“I told Nixon I was concerned he’d kill Ryan,” Maria Lamb said during testimony Wednesday in Flathead County District Court. “He told me that ‘things will be different.’”

Maria Lamb said Nixon didn’t deny hurting her nephew. She also talked at length about the end of 2017 and how it was a dark time for Ryan Lamb.

“He was thinking of going to Abbie Shelter [in Kalispell] and we had texted each other, but then it stopped and there were three days between communications with him,” Maria Lamb said.

She said she texted her nephew Dec. 29, 2017, and didn’t hear back from him. She texted him Dec. 31 and received a message that read “Ryan’s not going to be able to talk to you today. He needs to be by himself and think about what he’s done.”

Maria Lamb said she assumed the messages were from Nixon because Lamb “never talked in the third person.

“On New Year’s Day, Ryan [Lamb] called me at about 3 a.m.,” Maria Lamb said. “He was crying, terrified in a small room or closet and I could hear Nixon yelling and screaming, telling Lamb to leave.”

Maria Lamb said they talked about options to get her nephew out of the home. She said he agreed to one of the plans and he ended up on a train to Portland where he stayed for about three or four weeks before returning to Montana to live with Maria Lamb.

She said Ryan Lamb texted her Feb. 25, 2018, and said he was hurt. When she texted him back with apologies, he said he had done something wrong. He then texted her a photo of his eye injury that was presumably part of an incident where Nixon threw a phone at Lamb and cut his eye.

Maria Lamb said there was a lot of contact between her and Ryan Lamb the first few weeks of March.

“I tried to find him a place to live,” she said. “But he then dropped out of contact.”

She said she didn’t get in touch with Lamb, but when she texted Nixon March 28, he allegedly told her that he would pass the message to Lamb when he got done with work.

Three days later, Nixon told her that he sees Lamb every day and she said she was going to have the police get in touch. She said Nixon told her not to call police and that he didn’t need the trouble and that he could handle himself.

Maria Lamb also said that Nixon told her that “Ryan is my life, my soul mate and one day, I’ll marry him.”

She said when she soon spoke with Ryan Lamb, he told her he was never in a safe place.

She said she was very frustrated and didn’t text him for awhile.

Maria said she was at her mom’s place in Spokane when she heard about Nixon’s death and Lamb being in jail.

“I continued to support him,” Maria said, explaining they spent hundreds of hours on the phone.

“He never said he wanted Nixon to die,” Maria said.

County Deputy Attorney Alison Howard cross-examined Maria.

“I had no reason to doubt him (Lamb),” she said. But she also acknowledged she didn’t hear Nixon’s side of the story.

Other witnesses called by the defense also said they always heard Lamb’s side of the story about his injuries, but not Nixon’s when Howard asked them.

Hilary Shaw, executive director for Kalispell-based Abbie Shelter, testified in general terms about signs and behaviors of domestic abuse. She also said there were higher rates of assault among gay men than with lesbian couples, but many of the same traits of abuse could be found in domestic assault cases, no matter who is involved.

But she also said that in the LGBTQ community, some threats could include outing a partner, revenge porn, and one man taking advantage of the other, not believing domestic violence is possible between two men.

After the defense rested, the state called two rebuttal witnesses, including Chelsea Dodd, Nixon’s best friend.

Alisha Backus objected because Dodd wasn’t on the witness list, but Judge Robert Allison ruled she could testify.

Dodd said she had known Nixon since the sixth grade. She said she saw Lamb push Nixon and punch him in the face. She said Lamb called Nixon various derogatory names, including “faggot, bitch, and a piece of (expletive).”

When Backus asked Dodd about a black eye David De La Rosa had, she said he got it from Nixon. De La Rosa was a former boyfriend of Nixon.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.

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