Four men previously convicted in the murder of a retired Palm Springs art dealer will each represent themselves in their retrial.
Kaushal Niroula, Daniel Garcia, Miguel Bustamante, and David Replogle made their first court appearance in June. All four are serving life sentences in the brutal murder of Clifford Lambert, 74, for financial gain.
Lambert was stabbed in his home on December 5, 2008. His body was buried in the desert but authorities have never been able to find his remains.
The group of six men were convicted in 2012 but controversy arose years later when an appeal filed on behalf of Niroula alleged inappropriate comments Judge David Downing made in court proceedings.
Downing is accused of making comments about Niroula having HIV and refusing to read his motions. The comments were secretly recorded by Garcia on his court-issued laptop.
In June 2020, the Riverside Superior Court agreed with Niroula’s assertion that Downing's comment showed bias against Niroula and Garcia and granted four of the six suspects a retrial.
In their court appearance last week, Niroula, Garcia, Replogle, and Bustamante all fired their attorneys and will be representing themselves in individual trials.
Bustamante had already requested to represent himself in his court appearance on June 25, however, Defense attorney John Patrick Dolan was representing Replogle.
Niroula and Garcia represented themselves during their first trial nearly a decade ago.
According to the District Attorney's office, Garcia will be tried first with jury selection starting as early as Monday.
Craig McCarthy and Russell Manning were the other two suspects in this murder case. McCarthy plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Manning was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this case.