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Retrial begins for man previously convicted in Palm Springs art dealer murder

A man previously convicted of a murder that happened more than a decade ago is now back in an Indio courtroom for a re-trial.

Opening statements got underway Tuesday for 73-year-old ex-attorney David Replogle, one of six men who were convicted in the 2008 murder of Clifford Lambert, a wealthy 74-year-old Palm Springs art dealer.

Four defendants, including Replogle, appealed for new trials after the now-retired judge was recorded making homophobic statements.

The prosecution said Replogle is intertwined with a group of conspirators and was directly involved in plotting the murder. The defense said Replogle was merely the attorney representing the others, and that he acted under duress.

"It is never dark enough for a conspiracy to remain hidden," said Senior Deputy District Attorney Rob Hightower. "There will be no question by the end of this trial that Clifford Lambert was murdered, that David Replogle was part of that master plan, not only to murder him, but to take Mr. Lambert for everything that he was worth."

Hightower said Replogle had the legal know-how to conspire to rob and murder Clifford Lambert.

Prosecutors shared new details about the discovery of Lambert's remains, showing a photo of what they said was his final resting place – a ravine near Castaic, California, off Interstate 5.

"Mr. Lambert laid there, deceased, for a long time," Hightower said.

In June 2016, eight years after the murder, pipeline workers found a jawbone. 10 months later, environmental workers found a skull.

In September 2020, the Kern County Coroner's Office confirmed the remains were those of Lambert.

Defense attorney John Dolan said the others charged in the murder were Replogle's clients as an attorney, but he was not personally responsible for their actions.

For any role he did play, Dolan argued Replogle was threatened.

"Mr. Replogle did what he did under duress. That is not an intelligent act. That is not a voluntary act. That is not an act for which you should be criminally liable," Dolan said. "Mr. Replogle is not the brains of any conspiracy."

Our cameras were not permitted to record after opening statements ended Tuesday morning, but witnesses were on the stand as well, including Lambert's personal assistant, and his best friend.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this trial.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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