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Ryan Lamb pleads guilty to negligent homicide

by Scott Shindledecker Daily Inter Lake
| December 13, 2019 11:04 AM

A Flathead Valley man has pleaded guilty to stabbing his boyfriend to death.

Court documents indicate that Ryan Cody Lamb, 35, of Whitefish, entered a plea of guilty by way of Alford plea to negligent homicide Wednesday morning in Flathead County District Court.

Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner said his office was asking for a 10-year sentence to the Montana State Prison. Lamb’s attorney, Emily Lamson, is seeking that her client serve all 10 years on probation. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12.

If Flathead County District Judge Robert Allison accepts the plea and sentences Lamb to the range sought by both sides, it will end a case that has seen a number of twists and turns. If Allison rejects the agreement, the case will begin anew.

Kalispell Police said Lamb stabbed his then boyfriend Ryan Nixon, 31, formerly of Libby, with a pair of scissors during a sexual encounter at a Two Mile Drive apartment complex in Kalispell during the early-morning hours of Aug. 5, 2018.

Lamb stood trial in June 2019 on a charge of deliberate homicide.

Defense attorneys said Lamb acted in self-defense because he feared for his life after Nixon poked him repeatedly with a fork.

Judge Allison declared a mistrial June 14 after jurors couldn’t decide on a verdict after 13 hours of deliberations. Jurors first voted 8-4 for not guilty, then 11-1.

Flathead County prosecutors filed an amended charge of negligent homicide, as well as the original charge of deliberate homicide, on Aug. 1. Lamb pleaded not guilty Aug. 21 to both the amended and original charges.

Lamb’s attorney, Alisha Backus, filed a number of motions for acquittal, violation of the double jeopardy clause and to dismiss the case for a lack of probable cause.

But Judge Allison, in a series of rulings between Aug. 28 and Sept. 6, denied each motion.

Sept. 16, Greg Rapkoch of the county Public Defender’s Office filed a petition for writ of supervisory control to appeal Judge Allison’s decision to not dismiss the case on the double jeopardy clause.

The Montana Supreme Court recently ruled against that appeal.

Lamb faced a prison term of 10 to 100 years if he would have been convicted on the deliberate homicide charge. A conviction on the negligent homicide charge could have resulted in a 20-year term in Montana State Prison.

Lamb remains free on bail.