News & Features

Victim’s Father: ‘He Told Me If He Was Ever Killed to Look for Ryan Lamb’

On day four of the Ryan Lamb murder trial, the jury heard from Ryan Nixon’s parents and the man Lamb falsely blamed for the stabbing

The parents of the 31-year-old Kalispell man allegedly stabbed to death by his partner testified in court on Thursday that they were worried about their son’s relationship months before his death in August 2018.

Ryan Lamb, 34, is charged with felony deliberate homicide. Prosecutors allege that Lamb was an abusive partner and that he stabbed 31-year-old Ryan Nixon to death while having sex last August at an apartment in Kalispell. The defense team is painting a different picture in which Nixon was the abusive partner, and Lamb stabbed him because he was attacking him with a fork.

In an emotional start to day four of the trial in Flathead County District Court, Nixon’s parents, Randy and Lynn Nixon, both took the stand and said that they believed Lamb was abusive toward their son. However, both parents said they had never personally seen Lamb physically assault their son.

The Nixons described their son as a hard worker who put others first and was always ready to help make someone smile.

“He was the perfect child,” Randy Nixon said through tears.

Randy Nixon said he noticed bruises and cuts on his son not long after he started dating Lamb in 2015. He said he confronted his son about the marks but that his son denied that his partner had hurt him. However, later on during Lamb and Nixon’s three-year relationship, Ryan Nixon allegedly told his father that he was worried about Lamb hurting him.

“He told me that if he was ever killed to look for Ryan Lamb,” Randy Nixon testified.

Lynn Nixon also testified that she believed Lamb physically abused her son during their relationship and that her son would never hurt himself. But defense attorney Alisha Backus confronted the mother with a video clip that suggested otherwise. In a short piece of video apparently taken with a cell phone, the jury saw Ryan Nixon cut his arm with a knife.

“Based on this new information, is it possible that your son inflicted some of the cuts you saw himself,” she asked.

“I guess it’s possible, but he never hurt himself before Ryan Lamb was in the picture,” Lynn Nixon said.

Lynn Nixon said both Lamb and her son lived in her home in Libby on at least one occasion during their three-year relationship. She testified about two occasions where Lamb allegedly hurt her son: once by head butting him and another incident where Lamb allegedly stabbed Ryan Nixon in the chest twice with a screwdriver. However, Lynn Nixon said she never personally saw the assaults, only the immediate aftermath.

The jury also heard from Ryan Nixon’s previous partner, David Delarosa. Immediately after Nixon was stabbed, Lamb told police that Delarosa was a suspect, but officers later learned that he was not in Kalispell at the time of the incident. Delarosa said that he and Nixon had met on an online chat room in the early 2000s and that they had dated for 13 years. The relationship ended when Nixon started seeing Lamb in 2015. However, the two men remained friends.

Delarosa said Lamb had threatened or assaulted him on two different occasions. One time, while spending time with Ryan Nixon in a Libby park, Lamb struck him on the head from behind. On another occasion, Lamb allegedly told Delarosa to “get your own boyfriend” and then threatened him with a knife.

On Friday, the detective who led the investigation into the Aug. 5, 2018 death of Ryan Nixon is expected to testify before the state rests its case. Next week, the defense will begin its arguments. Although the trial was expected to last two weeks, Judge Robert Allison told the jury on Thursday afternoon that they might be able to start deliberating sometime next week.

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.