Defendant takes the stand in homicide trial

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And emotional Ryan Lamb gives his testimony on Monday, June 10, at Flathead County District Court in Kalispell. Lamb has been charged with felony deliberate homicide after being accused of stabbing his partner Ryan Nixon on Aug. 5, 2018.(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The Kalispell man accused of stabbing his boyfriend to death at a Two Mile Drive apartment last summer took the stand Monday in his defense in Flathead County District Court.

Ryan Cody Lamb, 35, is on trial for the deliberate homicide of Ryan Nixon in August 2018.

Lamb was visibly happy and distraught — at nearly the same time — as he recounted the early stages of his relationship with Nixon, the man he said he loved and with whom he had a 3 1/2-year relationship.

Lamb’s defense attorney, Flathead County Public Defender Alisha Backus, questioned him about how the relationship began late in 2015 and how it evolved to the two men living together in Libby with Nixon’s mother.

“I knew he had a long relationship and it had ended badly and I knew I wanted to be in a long relationship,” Lamb said. “I felt safe with him. He told me he loved me early on and it was too soon. To me, it was a red flag.”

Lamb explained he and Nixon met on Snapchat and exchanged messages, then texts and phone calls.

“At first I told him ‘No’ (referring to dating) and he wouldn’t talk to me at first, but he got sweeter, pursued the relationship and we began dating.

“There were a lot of good times,” Lamb said as he teared up and sobbed lightly.

Lamb said he was reluctant to date Nixon because of Nixon’s long-term relationship with David De La Rosa.

Lamb explained how he first identified De La Rosa as the man he believed killed Nixon.

“I was so traumatized seeing the man I loved dead and I said David because he was the first person I thought of that hated both of us,” Lamb said. “I am sorry to David because I didn’t want to get him into trouble.”

Lamb had become very emotional at this point in his testimony and Judge Robert Allison called for a recess so the defendant could regain his composure.

When Lamb returned to the stand, he explained that he and Nixon lived in Nixon’s mother’s home just outside of Libby in the middle of March 2016. He also said he introduced Nixon to his family at a reunion and family wedding that summer.

“He (Ryan) treated me very nice, a little shy at meeting my whole family, but it was a fun dynamic and he was attentive to me,” Lamb recalled.

Lamb said things changed in the relationship.

“At first, things were really good, but then they changed,” Lamb said. “He was jealous over friends I had and I had a lot, I was talking to guys, I drew on others’ energy.”

Lamb said in the fall of 2016, he went to the hospital a few times. On one occasion, Lamb said Nixon had punched him in the face and cut his eyebrow. According to the defendant, on another occasion, Nixon slammed his foot in a car door and it turned black before he went to the hospital.

“I told the doctor I slipped when he asked,” Lamb said. “It was easier, I was afraid of retaliation from him and his mom and I didn’t want for him to be in trouble.”

Lamb said his leg was in an air-cast from the one incident and he went to a podiatrist for further treatment. He also said he felt isolated because he didn’t have any friends in Libby and at times, he was scared of Nixon.

“He’d call me a slut, a whore, a faggot, he’d make screwed-up comments about me having HIV,” Lamb said. “He didn’t understand I’d have other relationships, friendships.

“I am polyamorous (the practice of intimate relationships with more than one partner), I thrive on the pack,” Lamb said.

Lamb also acknowledged “spitting some venom” in Nixon’s direction.

Lamb also said Nixon would use baling twine to tie a door shut and keep him inside a spare bedroom at his father’s home, also in Libby.

Another Lamb recollection involved when the two shot guns together at his dad’s home.

“Sometimes we’d get drunk and shoot and he’d shoot near me,” Lamb said.

His testimony ended with him explaining how his aunt had helped set up a plan for Lamb to get away from Nixon.

Dr. Richard Leo, an expert witness in false confessions and how police work to get confessions, testified for the defense. He shared his findings and why he thought Lamb’s statements to police were psychologically coerced.

When Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard cross-examined Leo, she elicited some gasps from the audience when he said he had billed the defense at least $10,000 for his work.

He agreed with Howard’s assertion that police used a lot of good techniques in most of its interrogation of Lamb.

Leo also said it wasn’t up to him to decide if Lamb’s statements were true or false, but it was up to the jury.

Kalispell Police Detective Capt. Jim Wardensky closed the state’s case against Lamb as he was cross-examined by Backus.

Most of it centered on the time-line of the evening and early morning hours when Nixon died of three stab wounds, allegedly from a pair of scissors wielded by Lamb, an assertion the prosecution made.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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

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