Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder and a Movie: The Jeffrey Lamb Case

The Trial

Williams opened by stating what he believed had occurred on June 15, 2004: Lamb had driven home from his workplace in his girlfriend's car, bludgeoned his wife, and then beat off the dogs when they tried to protect her. They had not been prepared to defend her at first because they were used to Lamb. Thus, he managed to avoid getting bitten. Then he drove back to the tow company, got into his truck and returned to the house again as if coming home for the night, and then called 911. He had an "alibi," in that coworkers had seen his tow truck at work during the time of the murder.

Jeffrey T. Lamb
Jeffrey T. Lamb

His motive: money. He'd staged a burglary but took the diamond earring himself and filed for the insurance payment. To hide the weapon, he cleaned it and tossed it on the warehouse roof.

Richard Lubin, appointed to defend Lamb, stated that Lamb had an alibi for the time of the murder — he was at work, there was a reasonable explanation for the blood on his clothing, and the crime scene analysis had been too flawed to make a clear determination of guilt. Evidence had not been preserved well, including the blood. In addition, blood spatter pattern analysis was not a science and there were other interpretations for how blood had gotten on his clothing — including being planted at the lab just before the trial to strengthen their case. In addition, nothing tied Lamb to the tire iron and he had fully cooperated with police up until the point at which they'd made it clear they were actively investigating him. His client was an innocent man.

As covered by the Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, testimony addressed several of the mysteries about Jeffrey Lamb. A former friend, John Corporal, had known that Lamb had both a girlfriend and wife — "Jeff likes to have his cake and eat it, too," he said. Lamb had signed a lease for an apartment at the same time he was pretending to reconcile with his wife Cathy and move back in with her. But his girlfriend, Joey Lee Steidel, was in the apartment, and she was aware that he was living at Cathy's. Corporal had also heard Jeff say ominous things about Cathy, hinting it would be easier on him if she were out of the picture. He'd once stated that he intended to hire someone to kill her.

Joey Lee admitted that she and Lamb had been engaged on and off over the five years they'd dated, sometimes living together, despite the fact that both were already married. Her husband was living in Illinois. She had expected to move into the apartment with Lamb that June, yet during the weeks following Cathy's murder, Lamb had been in a persistently foul mood, so she had decided to leave him (she was not allowed to explain the circumstances). Joey Lee then described the evening that Lamb had attacked her. On July 12, she came home to find him trying to hang himself from a swing set in the back yard. She helped him to go back into the house, but he turned on her, choking and hitting her. "I damn near passed out," she testified. "He's sitting there pushing me and punching me and slapping me and hitting me and trying to get these handcuffs on me." She managed to call the police to get them to come and arrest Lamb. He was charged and taken to jail. She testified that she then realized that Lamb was fully capable of killing his wife, and at this point she had stopped believing in his innocence.

While Lamb had been in jail awaiting trial, he'd written Joey Lee a letter — which Lubin had tried hard to keep out of the proceedings. In it, Lamb admitted that he'd lived badly, and he now needed her help. It was not an admission of guilt by any means, but Williams said it was suggestive.

Joey Lee then described how she had gone to Cathy Lamb's home after the murder: she found Lamb there, and he kept telling her he was "sorry." He did not say for what, but he apparently repeated this phrase over and over.

Lubin cross-examined Joey Lee, attempting to get her to admit that Lamb had been in an impaired state of mind at the time he'd written this letter. He suggested that the date coincided first with his discovery of her in bed with another man, and second, with the anniversary of his father's death. She declined to affirm either reason.

The trial continued with the expert testimony.

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