Gruesome testimony in murder case of elderly Long Beach man

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS   (WLOX) - The testimony was graphic and gory.

"A leg was found inside a garbage bag," said Harrison County Sheriff's investigator Chad Sablich. "There was duct tape that was wrapped around his head, covering his eyes. There was also duct tape on this right wrist."

Sablich testified for nearly two hours Thursday in the preliminary hearing for Richard Lambert.  The 31-year-old man is accused of robbing and killing 79-year-old Robert Barnes in his home on Red Creek Road in Long Beach in May.

The officer testified that Mr. Barnes was stabbed 29 times. The elderly man's body was chopped into seven pieces, then dumped in Discovery Bay Marina near Pass Christian.

"The torso of Mr. Barnes, where was it located?" asked Harrison County prosecutor Herman Cox.

"It was not in the water. It was off of the bank, and it was covered up with a large metal, what appeared to be a locker," Sablich told him.

Sablich said witnesses saw a man matching Lambert's description with garbage bags at Discovery Bay. And the officer said video showed Lambert bought a box of garbage bags at a Long Beach store.

"It is the same brand of garbage bags that was recovered inside the shed of Mr. Barnes' residence," said Sablich.

Sablich said bank video also showed Lambert using a stolen identity to cash a check on Mr. Barnes' account. He said Lambert's fingerprint was also found on the check.

"This is a check which is written out to Jimmy Brantley and signature of Robert Barnes at the bottom. And it's for house repairs for $400.00 on May 18th, 2009," said Sablich.

"And that check was in fact cashed?" Cox asked.

"Yes sir," Sablich responded.

"And the person who was identified as cashing it was the defendant?" Cox asked.

"Yes sir," said Sablich.

Sablich said when Lambert was arrested in Ohio shortly after the murder, a search of his vehicle turned up blood stains.

"There were swabs that were taken from the driver's side," Sablich said. "The bottom portion of the seat on the driver's side and the console there were blood."

The defense attorney disputed the officer's testimony, claiming the evidence does not directly link Lambert to Mr. Barnes' murder.

"Just the fact that Mr. Lambert did or did not cash a check belonging to Mr. Barnes, that doesn't mean he killed Mr. Barnes, does it?" asked public defender Eric Geiss.

"No," said Sablich.

However, Harrison County Judge Gaston Hewes said prosecutors met their burden of proof against the accused killer. He ordered the capital murder case bound over to a grand jury.

"I feel good. The evidence was there. The judge bound him over without bond," Cox said after the hearing.

When asked if he was happy with how the case has been going so far, Geiss responded, "I'm not unhappy."

Judge Hewes bound the capital murder case over to a grand jury, along with two other charges against Lambert:

  • Passing a forged check
  • Burglary of a boat at Discovery Bay

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