Defense motions denied in murder case of Libby man

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RYAN LAMB and his defense attorney, Alisha Backus, confer during his trial in June 2019 in the death of Libby native Ryan Nixon. Lamb was released from jail after a hung jury resulted in a mistrial, but he still faces charges of deliberate homicide and negligent homicide. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The homicide case against a Whitefish man accused of murdering a former Libby resident during a sexual encounter will go forward after the presiding judge ruled against defense motions to dismiss the case.

In court filings dated Aug. 28 and Sept. 5 and 6, Flathead District Judge Robert Allison denied three different motions made by attorney Alisha Backus, who is representing 35-year-old Ryan Cody Lamb.

Lamb is accused of stabbing his then-boyfriend Ryan Nixon, 31, of Kalispell, to death with a pair of scissors Aug. 5, 2018, at a Two Mile Drive apartment complex in Kalispell.

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

Allison denied a motion for dismissal due to the fact that a retrial of the case would violate the double jeopardy clauses of both Montana and U.S. Constitutions.

He also denied a motion for judgment of acquittal.

“The court heard the same evidence as the parties and concluded when the state rested its case, there was sufficient evidence to deny the motion to dismiss. This remains the view of the court today,” Allison wrote in his order.

Allison also wrote that “The court believes the forensic report alone provides significant evidence supporting the charge, particularly when evidence of prior violence between the defendant and Ryan Nixon was introduced along with descriptions of the chaotic apartment and the delay in reporting Nixon’s condition.”

After the state filed an amended charge of negligent homicide Aug. 1, Lamb’s attorney, Alisha Backus, filed a motion to dismiss it for a lack of probable cause.

Allison’s order noted the court had previously determined probable cause exists in support of the charges.

Lamb’s trial on deliberate homicide charges ended in dismissal June 14 after a jury of 12 Flathead County residents couldn’t decide on a verdict.

Jurors first voted 8-4 for not guilty, then 11-1.

There seemed to be confusion among some jurors in relation to their deliberations.

According to court documents, one juror sent a note to Judge Allison, asking “If not guilty, is there still consequences?” and “Is it possible to get a lesser charge?”

Another juror asked “Can we get transcripts of what Ryan Lamb said on stand?”

Yet another note from a juror asked “What if a juror states he made a conclusion before all the evidence is presented?”

Lamb pleaded not guilty Aug. 21 to the amended charge of negligent homicide, as well as a charge of deliberate homicide.

If convicted of felony negligent homicide, Lamb could face up to 20 years in Montana State Prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.

If convicted of deliberate homicide, he may face a prison term of 10 to more than 100 years.

Since the incident involved a dangerous weapon, the offense in either charge is punishable by an additional prison term of two to 10 years.

Lamb remains free on bail.

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