Murder suspect spars with prosecutor

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A Flathead Valley man accused of killing his boyfriend verbally sparred with one of the attorneys who is prosecuting him for deliberate homicide Tuesday morning in Flathead County District Court.

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

When Flathead County Deputy Attorney Alison Howard cross-examined Lamb, the exchange became testy at times.

Howard questioned Lamb about the differing statements he gave to a convenience store employee, a nurse at North Valley Hospital, a 911 operator and several police officers.

Lamb’s response was that he was trying to process what had happened, resulting in confusion.

“I don’t think I plunged the scissors into him, I think he fell into me,” Lamb said when he described the incident early in the morning of Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. “I wasn’t aware I had stabbed him twice because he had lunged at me,” Lamb also said on the stand.

The defendant’s father, Paul Lamb, also took the stand in defense of his son.

He told jurors and an ever-increasing gallery about his son’s suicide attempt when he was in junior high school.

“He struggled with his identity,” Paul Lamb said in reference to his son being homosexual.

The elder Lamb, a longtime nurse at North Valley Hospital, said he was horrified when he heard about what happened last August involving his son. Lamb was in Spokane visiting a relative at the time. Ryan Lamb had tried to reach his father at the hospital in the hour after Nixon’s death. But Lamb had retired from the hospital in late June after working there for 34 years.

“My daughter had left messages that Ryan was in jail and Nixon was dead,” Paul Lamb said. “I felt horror, shock, sadness.”

The father said he saw the relationship between his son and Nixon deteriorate over the years.

“He second-guessed himself about the relationship and we talked several times about a plan to get himself out of the relationship,” Paul Lamb said.

Howard asked Paul Lamb about his son’s self-harming behavior. He said he saw cuts on his wrists that resulted in trips to the emergency room.

The father also said they told Ryan Lamb he couldn’t live them if he got out of jail.

“We told him he couldn’t live with us because we didn’t trust him,” Paul Lamb said.

Defense attorney Alisha Backus asked why they didn’t trust their son and Paul Lamb said he didn’t because of his son’s drinking.

He also spoke of a incident at a gas station in February 2018 when he tried to punch his son.

“I didn’t hit him, he got his stuff out of the car and took his stuff,” Paul Lamb said.

The father also said his contact with his son was sporadic, “usually when he was in trouble,” he said.

That was somewhat of a theme for the murder suspect as others testified in his behalf.

An acquaintance of Ryan Lamb’s, Crystal Wendt, said she worked with him at a business for about a year in Missoula.

“We worked together sometime in 2015-16,” she said. “We had lunch or dinner, hiked together, watched TV.”

Wendt said she met Nixon once in the fall of 2017 and described him as quiet. Lamb told her the relationship was unhealthy and volatile.

“He’d call when he needed support,” Wendt said.

She said she saw bruises and cuts on his arms and face.

Howard asked Wendt if she had seen him much in 2018, she said she hadn’t and stopped having contact with him in June or July 2018.

“He said he tried to reach out to Abbie Shelter, but he was told he had to be in immediate danger or threatening suicide to go there,” Wendt said.

She said she didn’t know about his experiences with law enforcement.

Apparent mixed messages were also a key element of the troubled relationship that were discussed Tuesday morning.

Howard questioned Lamb about Facebook messages he sent to Nixon at the same time he said he was trying to leave the man he called his “Bubba.”

“You say you are unhappy and isolated, but you still love him,” Howard queried. Lamb replied “Yes.”

Howard said there were 9,000 pages of Facebook conversations between Lamb and Nixon.

In one message, dated Feb. 5, 2017, Lamb wrote “I miss you and I’d wish you’d kidnap me.”

“Bubba, I love you hardcore,” “I love you, you are my soul mate” were some of the other things Lamb messaged to Nixon in the early part of March 2017.

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

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or

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