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Former juror talks about Palm Springs murder trial

The Clifford Lambert case has been making headlines, since 2008. Now the amount of money being granted to the two defendants currently defending themselves is raising eyebrows.

A former juror, on a past trial in the case says simply too much is being granted to the defendants. Katrina McDowell was known as juror number 12, during the trial of two men accused in the financially motivated killing of Palm Springs retiree, Clifford Lambert.

Miguel Bustamante and David Repogle were convicted in January, after 4 months of analyzing evidence, including flow-charts, phone records and text messages.

“We looked at all of those and came to the conclusion that the defendants were guilty of helping to assist in the killing of Clifford Lambert,” McDowell says.

Repogle and Bustamante were convicted of first-degree murder and eight other felony counts. Both sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Now, two more men, Daniel Garcia and Kaushal Niroula face 10 felony charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy, in the December 5, 2008, stabbing death, of the 74-year-old.

McDowell says, “We were saddened by something he did for companionship and how it took his life.”

Now, she’s upset because of the budget she’s heard is being granted to the defendants, currently representing themselves. She says, “I became concerned when the defendants, Niroula and Garcia were placed on trial and the judge made it public knowledge that they were allowed to spend $600,000.00. I thought that was an exorbitant amount of money and I became concerned.”

We were unable to confirm that exact number with the D.A. or the Public Defender’s office.

McDowell says, “I heard it from transcripts and other sources.”

We did find a list of expenses in the court’s public records online, to be paid for by the county of Riverside. They include $20,000.00 in ancillary funds for Garcia’s court appointed investigator, portions of which are to be used for travel expenses, food, lodging and transportation.

In addition, McDowell says she’s heard Garcia and Niroula have been given brand new laptops. The D.A. office did confirm that with us.

Senior public information specialist, John Hall issued this statement: “The judge in this case has granted both defendants, who are representing themselves at trial, access to apple laptops to assist in their own defense.”

McDowell says, “The court has computers they can use. I think they should have been given computer time, but your own laptop, I do not agree with that.”

On July, 9th McDowell went to court, in Indio, to see Niroula and Garcia, in action. She says, “They were very focused on what every person said. I noticed they were taking notes and i noticed they were consulting their laptops and two legal authorities that sit beside them. So I noticed they were very involved and not passive at all.”

But as a former juror and taxpayer she’s worried about the precedent being set. She says, “I just want to make sure in the future, even if you say you want to represent yourself, you’re not allowed to carte blanche, do what you want to do.”

In the end she wants to see justice served and is hoping for one ultimate outcome. “All the people involved in his murder are tried, found guilty and serve their time.”

KESQ News Team


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