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Opening statements expected in Lambert murder trial

Opening statements are scheduled Modnay in the trial of two men accused in the financially motivated slaying of a Palm Springs retiree.

Daniel Carlos Garcia, 29, and Kaushal Niroula, 31 — each one is representing himself — each face 10 felony charges, including murder and conspiracy, in the Dec. 5, 2008, stabbing death of 74-year-old Clifford Lambert.

Co-defendants David Replogle and Miguel Bustamante were convicted in January 2011 of first-degree murder and eight other felony counts stemming from Lambert’s death, and both were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Another defendant, Craig McCarthy, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in August 2010 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 19. A sixth man, Russell Herbert Manning, pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in the case in 2010 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Palm Springs police Detective Frank Browning testified at a pre-trial hearing that McCarthy told him the initial plan to kidnap Lambert and steal his identity to clean out his accounts hit a snag when concerns arose that the retiree could re-emerge and contest forged power-of-attorney documents.

Bustamante then killed Lambert in his kitchen, stabbing him in the back, with McCarthy and Niroula nearby, according to the prosecution’s trial brief.

Niroula was posing as an attorney representing a fictional family that he said had left Lambert money or artwork in a will. Niroula let McCarthy and Bustamante into the house the day Lambert died, according to the prosecution.

Bustamante and McCarthy buried Lambert’s body in the desert. His remains have not been found, according to the prosecution.

Garcia, who met Lambert online the spring before he died, was linked to the conspiracy when he was found to be in possession of Lambert’s debit card in December 2008, according to the prosecution. He allegedly was seen at San Francisco and Palm Springs banks withdrawing varying amounts of money from the victim’s accounts.

KESQ News Team

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