INDIO — Jury selection got under way Monday for the trial of two men accused in the financially motivated killing of a Palm Springs retiree.
Daniel Carlos Garcia and Kaushal Niroula each face 10 felony charges, including murder and conspiracy, in the Dec. 5, 2008, stabbing death of 74-year-old Clifford Lambert.
Garcia, 29, and Niroula, 30, are both acting as their own attorneys. Opening statements in their trial are expected to start around June 25.
Co-defendants David Replogle and Miguel Bustamante were convicted in January 2011 of first-degree murder and eight other felony counts stemming from Lambert’s death, and both were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Another defendant, Craig McCarthy, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in August 2010 and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 19.
A sixth man, Russell Herbert Manning, pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in 2010 and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Palm Springs police Detective Frank Browning testified at an earlier hearing that McCarthy told him the initial plan to kidnap Lambert and steal his identity to clean out his accounts hit a snag when concerns arose that the retiree could re-emerge and contest forged power-of-attorney documents.
The group then killed Lambert during a staged break-in, with Bustamante stabbing him in the back of the neck as McCarthy and Niroula stood by his side, Browning said.
The trio are believed to have buried Lambert’s body in the desert. His remains have not been found.
Garcia was connected to the conspiracy when he was found to be in possession of Lambert’s debit card in December 2008, according to the prosecution.
He reportedly was seen at several San Francisco and Palm Springs banks withdrawing varying amounts of money from the victim’s accounts.
Trial nears for two accused of murder
City News Service
June 5, 2012
The Desert Sun