State v. Lambert, No. 14–0438.

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtDAVIS, Justice
Citation777 S.E.2d 649,236 W.Va. 80
Decision Date17 September 2015
Docket NumberNo. 14–0438.
PartiesSTATE of West Virginia, Plaintiff Below, Respondent v. Jeremy LAMBERT, Defendant Below, Petitioner.

236 W.Va. 80
777 S.E.2d 649

STATE of West Virginia, Plaintiff Below, Respondent
v.
Jeremy LAMBERT, Defendant Below, Petitioner.

No. 14–0438.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Submitted Sept. 2, 2015.
Decided Sept. 17, 2015.


Mary Guy Dyer, Thomas G. Dyer, Dyer Law Offices, Clarksburg, WV, Daniel C. Cooper, Cooper Law Offices, PLLC, Bridgeport, WV, for Petitioner.

Kristen Keller, Raleigh County Prosecutor, Beckley, WV, for Respondent.

Opinion

DAVIS, Justice:

This is a criminal appeal by Jeremy Lambert (hereinafter “Mr. Lambert”) from his conviction and sentence by the Circuit Court of Raleigh County. Mr. Lambert was convicted of first-degree murder without mercy. He was sentenced by the circuit court to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In this appeal, Mr. Lambert has made the following assignments of error: (1) erroneous rulings on felony-murder and lying-in-wait murder theories, (2) error in refusing to give a voluntary manslaughter jury instruction, (3) improper examination of a rebuttal witness by the State, (4) error in admitting a recording of a psychiatric interview of Mr. Lambert, (5) error in limiting the testimony of Mr. Lambert's expert, (6) improper cross-examination of Mr. Lambert's expert, and (7) prejudice resulting from the cumulative effect of the errors. After a careful review of the briefs, the record submitted on appeal, and listening to the arguments of the parties, we affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The facts of this case involve the killing of twenty-five-year-old Cyan Maroney (hereinafter “Ms. Maroney”). In 2011, Ms. Maroney shared an apartment with three roommates in Beckley, West Virginia.1 Ms. Maroney was a professional ballet dancer who performed with the West Virginia Dance Company and Theatre West Virginia.2 She was also employed at the Tamarack in Beckley. Mr. Lambert began a relationship with Ms. Maroney in May 2011. The relationship ended in September 2011.

The events leading up to Mr. Lambert's prosecution for the murder of Ms. Maroney began in the early evening hours of October 2, 2011. On that date, at around 6:42 p.m., Mr. Lambert went to a Walmart store in Beckley and purchased a 14–inch Bowie knife. After purchasing the knife, Mr. Lambert sat in his car in the Walmart parking lot for a short while before driving to Ms. Maroney's apartment.3 Mr. Lambert reached Ms. Maroney's apartment at around 8:15 p.m. According to Mr. Lambert, Ms. Maroney came out of the apartment and met him at his car. They spoke briefly before she returned to the apartment. Ms. Maroney came back outside and spoke with Mr. Lambert a second time before again returning to her apartment.

After Ms. Maroney returned to her apartment the second time, Mr. Lambert hid the Bowie knife in his pants and entered her apartment.4 One of Ms. Maroney's roommates, Katherine Houff (“Ms. Houff”), saw Mr. Lambert enter the apartment and walk into Ms. Maroney's bedroom.5 While inside the bedroom, Mr. Lambert stabbed Ms. Maroney twenty-three times. Stab wounds were inflicted to her thoracic aorta, esophagus, face, stomach, diaphragm, liver, lungs, kidney, spleen, and skull. Ms. Maroney's roommates heard her screaming during the attack and came to her bedroom door, but

777 S.E.2d 655

did not enter. Ms. Houff testified that she saw Mr. Lambert leaving Ms. Maroney's bedroom carrying a large “bloody knife.”6 Ms. Houff testified further that, as Mr. Lambert left the apartment, she believed he stated, “That'll show that m ... f ... to leave me.” Ms. Maroney bled to death before reaching the hospital.

Mr. Lambert was arrested several hours after he killed Ms. Maroney. In January 2012, a grand jury returned a one count indictment charging Mr. Lambert with first-degree murder in causing the death of Ms. Maroney. The case went to trial on February 24, 2014. Mr. Lambert took the stand during the trial and admitted that he killed Ms. Maroney. However, Mr. Lambert's defense was that he suffered from diminished capacity at the time of the killing. On March 6, 2014, the jury returned a verdict finding Mr. Lambert guilty of first-degree murder, without a recommendation of mercy. This appeal followed.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Mr. Lambert asserts seven assignments of error. The issues presented have specific review standards. Therefore, we will dispense with setting out a general standard of review. Specific standards of review will be discussed separately as we address each assignment of error.

III.

DISCUSSION

In this appeal, the issues assigned for our review by Mr. Lambert are as follows: (1) erroneous rulings on felony-murder and lying-in-wait murder theories, (2) error in refusing to give a voluntary manslaughter jury instruction, (3) improper examination of a rebuttal witness by the State (4) error in admitting a recording of a psychiatric interview of Mr. Lambert, (5) error in limiting the testimony of Mr. Lambert's expert, (6) improper cross-examination of Mr. Lambert's expert, and (7) prejudice resulting from the cumulative effect of the errors. We will consider each assignment of error separately.

A. Felony–Murder and Lying–in–Wait Murder Theories

The trial court instructed the jury on three theories of first-degree murder: premeditated murder, felony-murder, and lying-in-wait murder. Mr. Lambert contends that he was not indicted on the theories of felony-murder and lying-in-wait; therefore, those theories should not have been presented to the jury. Mr. Lambert also contends, as an alternative argument, that the State should have been required to make an election on which theory of murder would be presented to the jury. Finally, Mr. Lambert argues that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the lying-in-wait murder theory. We will address these issues separately below.

1. Injecting felony-murder and lying-in-wait murder theories into the case. Mr. Lambert correctly argues that the indictment did not expressly charge him with felony-murder and lying-in-wait murder. However, the trial court permitted the State to present both theories to the jury and instructed the jury on the same. Mr. Lambert argued below and on appeal that he “had been indicted on first degree premeditated murder and had received no notice of the State's intent to prosecute him on felony murder and murder by lying in wait.” Consequently, Mr. Lambert contends that he could not be prosecuted for felony-murder and lying-in-wait murder, as those theories were not expressly set out in the indictment.

As an initial matter, this Court has “recognized that de novo review is applied when the sufficiency of an indictment is questioned.” State v. Corra, 223 W.Va. 573, 578, 678 S.E.2d 306, 311 (2009) (citation omitted). Further, “[a]n indictment need only meet minimal constitutional standards, and the sufficiency of an indictment is determined by practical rather than technical considerations.” Syl. pt. 2, in part, State v. Miller, 197 W.Va. 588, 476 S.E.2d 535 (1996).

777 S.E.2d 656

We have held that our homicide statute, “W. Va.Code, 61–2–1, enumerates three broad categories of homicide constituting first degree murder: (1) murder by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving; (2) by any willful, deliberate and premeditated killing; (3) in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, robbery or burglary.” Syl. pt. 6, State v. Sims, 162 W.Va. 212, 248 S.E.2d 834 (1978). The first category of first-degree murder contains the lying-in-wait theory and the third category for first degree murder is the felony-murder component.

We have, on several occasions, been called upon to address the issue of whether a defendant may be prosecuted on a felony-murder theory when the indictment did not expressly set out this theory.7 For example, in the case of State v. Bragg, 160 W.Va. 455, 235 S.E.2d 466 (1977), we addressed the issue of whether an indictment for first-degree premeditated murder had to set out a specific count alleging felony-murder in order for the State to present the issue to the jury. The indictment in Bragg merely stated that the defendant did “feloniously, wilfully, maliciously, deliberately, premeditatedly and unlawfully” kill the victim. See Bragg, 160 W.Va. at 463, 235 S.E.2d at 471. However, during the State's opening statement in Bragg, it announced that it would present evidence to support a felony-murder conviction.8 The jury ultimately was instructed on felony-murder and premeditated murder. The defendant was convicted of premeditated murder. On appeal, the defendant argued that it was error for the court to instruct the jury on felony-murder because the indictment did not charge such offense. This Court, in affirming the conviction, held the following in Syllabus point 5 of Bragg:

An indictment which charges that the defendant feloniously, wilfully, maliciously, deliberately, premeditatedly and unlawfully did slay, kill and murder is sufficient to support a conviction for murder committed in the commission of, or attempt to commit arson, rape, robbery or
...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 practice notes
  • Frank A. v. Ames, 20-0024
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...power of appellate courts to correct the error.'" Id. at 630-31, 482 S.E.2d at 615-16 (citations omitted); see also State v. Lambert, 236 W.Va. 80, 99, 777 S.E.2d 649, 668 (2015) ("To preserve an issue for appellate review, a party must articulate it with such sufficient distincti......
  • Morrisey v. Afl-Cio, No. 19-0298
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 21, 2020
    ...to preserve the issue on appeal.’ State v. Lilly, 194 W.Va. 595, 605 n. 16, 461 S.E.2d 101, 111 n. 16 (1995)." State v. Lambert , 236 W. Va. 80, 89 n.12, 777 S.E.2d 649, 658 n.12 (2015).3 Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965).4 "In considering the constitutionality of a le......
  • Frank A. v. Ames, 20-0024
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...of appellate courts to correct the error.’ " Id. at 630-31, 482 S.E.2d at 615-16 (citations omitted); see also State v. Lambert , 236 W. Va. 80, 99, 777 S.E.2d 649, 668 (2015) ("To preserve an issue for appellate review, a party must articulate it with such sufficient distinctiven......
  • State v. Sites, No. 16-0437
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 7, 2019
    ...quotation marks and citations omitted). We decline to address this inadequately briefed issue on the merits. See State v. Lambert, 236 W. Va. 80, 100, 777 S.E.2d 649, 669 (2015) ("As a result of Mr. Lambert's failure to adequately brief this issue, we will not consider the matter."......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Frank A. v. Ames, 20-0024
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...the power of appellate courts to correct the error.'" Id. at 630-31, 482 S.E.2d at 615-16 (citations omitted); see also State v. Lambert, 236 W.Va. 80, 99, 777 S.E.2d 649, 668 (2015) ("To preserve an issue for appellate review, a party must articulate it with such sufficient distinctiveness......
  • Morrisey v. Afl-Cio, No. 19-0298
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 21, 2020
    ...to preserve the issue on appeal.’ State v. Lilly, 194 W.Va. 595, 605 n. 16, 461 S.E.2d 101, 111 n. 16 (1995)." State v. Lambert , 236 W. Va. 80, 89 n.12, 777 S.E.2d 649, 658 n.12 (2015).3 Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965).4 "In considering the constitutionality of a legislative ......
  • Frank A. v. Ames, 20-0024
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 19, 2021
    ...power of appellate courts to correct the error.’ " Id. at 630-31, 482 S.E.2d at 615-16 (citations omitted); see also State v. Lambert , 236 W. Va. 80, 99, 777 S.E.2d 649, 668 (2015) ("To preserve an issue for appellate review, a party must articulate it with such sufficient distinctiveness ......
  • State v. Sites, No. 16-0437
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 7, 2019
    ...quotation marks and citations omitted). We decline to address this inadequately briefed issue on the merits. See State v. Lambert, 236 W. Va. 80, 100, 777 S.E.2d 649, 669 (2015) ("As a result of Mr. Lambert's failure to adequately brief this issue, we will not consider the matter."); State ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT