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Miguel Bustamante convicted of 2008 murder of Palm Springs retiree

Update 6/14/23 1:30 p.m.

The jury found Miguel Bustamante guilty on nearly all counts, including first-degree murder, in his retrial for the killing of Palm Springs retiree Clifford Lambert in 2008.

  • COUNT 1: GUILTY (First-degree murder)
    • Allegation: intentionally and for financial gain – true; Allegation: Lying in wait – true
  • COUNT 2: GUILTY (Conspiracy to commit grand theft)
  • COUNT 3: GUILTY (First-degree burglary)
  • COUNT 4 - No decision, dismissed by prosecution, withdrawn from the jury's consideration
  • COUNT 5: GUILTY (Grand theft)
  • COUNT 6 accuses KAUSHAL NIROULA and DANIEL CARLOS GARCIA of stealing, taking and defrauding money, labor, real and personal property – Bustamante is not mentioned in the count.
  • COUNT 7: GUILTY (Identity theft)
  • COUNT 8: GUILTY (False and forged instrument)
  • COUNT 9: GUILTY (First-degree burglary)
    • Allegation: committed two or more related felonies, a material element of which was fraud or embezzlement, which involved a 4 pattern of related felony conduct - true
  • COUNT 10: GUILTY (receiving stolen property)

News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia is in the courtroom for the verdict. He'll have full details on the verdict coming up at 4, 5, and 6 p.m.

Bustamante, 40, was originally convicted in 2011 for Lambert's murder, resulting in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, he was granted a new trial after an appeal from two other co-defendants in the case appealed their verdicts after the discovery of secretly recorded homophobic statements made by the now-retired judge.

Bustamante is scheduled to be sentenced on July 7.

Original Report 6/14/23 10:15 a.m.

After 9 days of deliberations, a jury reached a verdict Wednesday in the murder retrial of Miguel Bustamante, a man previously convicted in the murder of a Palm Springs retiree. It is expected to be read at 1:30 p.m. at the Larson Justice Center in Indio. The case is centered on a financially motivated scheme that from more than a decade ago.

After hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and defense, the jury began their deliberations on May 18 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio. The prosecutor emphasized the need for a conviction, while the defense maintained the innocence of their client.

The murder case revolves around the 2008 death of Clifford Lambert, a wealthy 74-year-old art dealer. Bustamante, now 40 years old, was convicted in the first trial but appealed the verdict along with four other defendants after the discovery of secretly recorded homophobic statements made by the now-retired judge.

Clifford Lambert

In his closing statement, Deputy District Attorney Robert Hightower accused Bustamante of prioritizing money over Lambert's life. Hightower alleged that Bustamante, along with a group of conspirators, stabbed Lambert to death at his Palm Springs home before disposing of his body along a highway in Los Angeles County.

"This defendant, by his own hand, made a decision that money was more important than Mr. Lambert's life," Hightower said. "Because of that, this defendant is guilty on all of the charges in front of you."

In contrast, defense attorney Bosky Kathuria reminded the jurors that Bustamante is presumed innocent and claimed that his client had been manipulated by Kaushal Niroula, another alleged conspirator.

"He was an unwitting pawn recruited in Niroula's game, and he was seduced and taken advantage of by Mr. Niroula," Kathuria argued. "He's not a murderer, and he's innocent of the charges he's being accused of."

News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia will be in the courtroom and has reports tonight on KESQ.

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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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