Testimony Ends in Ryan Lamb Murder Trial; Closing Arguments Begin Thursday

Attorneys met with judge to settle jury instructions Wednesday afternoon

By Justin Franz
Ryan Lamb sits in Flathead County District Court on the fourth day of his trial on June 6, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Eight days of testimony in the Ryan Lamb murder trial came to an end Wednesday and closing arguments are expected to begin tomorrow morning. Then it will be up to a jury to determine what happens to Lamb, the 34-year-old man accused of stabbing his partner, 31-year-old Ryan Nixon, to death last August.

On Wednesday, Lamb’s attorney, Alisha Backus, rested her case and prosecutors offered two more rebuttal witnesses, friends who testified that they had seen Lamb verbally and physically assault Nixon in the past. At approximately 1:30 p.m., the jury was released for the day. Afterwards, Judge Robert Allison met with attorneys to discuss the instructions that will be given to the jury starting at 9 a.m. Thursday. After jury instructions have been given, Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard and Backus will give their closing arguments.

The jury will likely begin deliberations mid-day Thursday.

Lamb is charged with felony deliberate homicide. Prosecutors allege that Lamb stabbed Nixon to death while having sex on Aug. 5, 2018. But the defense team is painting a different picture in which Nixon was an abusive partner, and Lamb stabbed him because he was being attacked with a fork.

On Wednesday morning, the jury heard from Maria Lamb, Ryan Lamb’s aunt, who testified that she had helped the defendant escape Nixon’s alleged abuse on multiple occasions. Maria Lamb said that she had a close relationship with Ryan Lamb and that he confided in her that he was scared of Nixon.

In one instance, Maria Lamb had not heard from Ryan Lamb for a number of weeks. After failing to get hold of him on his phone she called Nixon. Later that day, she finally got a call from Ryan Lamb.

“Are you in a safe place to talk?” Maria Lamb asked.

“I’m never in a safe place to talk,” Ryan Lamb responded.

The defense’s final witness was Hilary Shaw, executive director of the Abbie Shelter, who served as an expert witness on domestic abuse. She offered testimony to try and give context to what the jury had heard over the last eight days.

After the defense rested, the state offered two additional witnesses, including Chelsea Dodd, of Libby, who said she first met Nixon in the sixth grade and remained close ever since. She testified she had seen Lamb and Nixon fighting on multiple occasions, including one instance where Lamb shoved Nixon to the ground.

When asked what type of person Nixon was, she briefly broke down.

“He was an amazing person with a heart of gold,” she said. “He was my best friend.”

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