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4 men convicted for murder of Palm Springs art dealer granted a new trial

There are new developments in the 2008 murder of a retired Palm Springs art dealer killed for his money.

Four men convicted in the murder of Clifford Lambert have been granted a new trial. The case garnered national attention as the story of how the plan to kill Lambert was hatched and executed.

It's been eight years since a jury found Kaushal Niroula and Daniel Garcia guilty of murdering Palm Springs retiree Clifford Lambert. The 74-year-old stabbed in his home and buried in the desert, authorities never able to find his body.

Clifford Lambert

The trial for the two so-called masterminds in the case was not without controversy as they represented themselves and audiotaped the judge making explicit derogatory statements.

Five years after the conviction, an appeal filed on behalf of Niroula alleging comments Judge David Downing made in court proceedings that Garcia secretly-recorded on his court-issued laptop. The allegations involve Downing making comments about Niroula having HIV, and refusing to read his motions.

In a meeting in June 2012, Judge Downing told Garcia, "I don't know what was said."

In another meeting a month later, Niroula told Downing, "It is a  commentary regarding my health status and not reading my given motions because you are concerned about where my tongue has been, are inappropriate, your honor."

To which downing replied, "I don't care what you think. I can say what I want. The first amendment protects me."

Thursday, the Riverside County District Attorney's office issuing this statement to News Channel 3:

"After being convicted by a jury, two of the four defendants tried before this judge filed a petition for a new trial claiming the judge was biased against them. Following a thorough review of these claims, we made the decision that the interests of justice demanded these two defendants be granted a new trial.  To prevent even an appearance of judicial bias and to ensure the rights of the other defendants were protected, we advised we would also not oppose the granting of new trials for the other separately tried defendants."

Since we received the statement above, two other defendants in this case have been added bringing the total of 4 of the 6 men convicted in this case granted a new trial.

Tyson Wrensch co-author of the international best seller about the men involved in the Lambert murder. Wrensch knew Daniel Garcia and Kaushal Niroula personally.  He explained in the book "Until someone gets hurt" how Garcia ripped him off by draining his bank accounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was out of the country.  His book detailing the multi-layered crime spree by a criminal enterprise known as the "Dark prince and his gang of grifters."

Wrensch told News Channel 3's Karen Devine:

"The fact is the judge didn't convict them, the jury did, the judge gave them each a million dollars to help them in their own defense, they acted as their own lawyers and they did a really good job but they lost the jury saw through it and now we're just wasting more taxpayer dollars."

Kaushal Niroula and Daniel Garcia were both convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to six years plus life without the possibility of parole.

Miguel Bustamante and David Replogle were convicted of first degree murder and also sentenced to life in prison.  Two others including Craig Mccarthy plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and Russell Manning an art dealer got five years in prison for fraud.

According to the District Attorney's office the next scheduled hearing is Tuesday, June 30th at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

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Karen Devine

Karen Devine is celebrating her 27th year delivering the local news as an anchor and reporter in the Palm Springs television market. Learn more about Karen here.

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