Court of Appeals overturns Robert Lambert's death sentence

Wednesday, December 7th 2005, 7:54 pm
By: News On 6

A convicted murderer is ruled "retarded" and won't face the death penalty. Robert Lambert was convicted in the grisly deaths of Michael Houghton and Laura Lee Sanders back in 1987.

Lambert confessed on video tape that he and his partner in crime - Scott Hain - locked the two in the trunk of a car, and set it on fire. Now Lambert's death sentence has been overturned and the victims' families feel it’s a travesty of justice.

News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson says the victims' families have already seen justice served for one of the killers.

Both families have always pushed for the death penalty. Lambert's partner - Scott Hain - was executed in 2003 for the crime. Judges ruled Hain could still face the death penalty, even though he was a minor when he murdered Michael Houghton and Laura Lee Sanders.

Robert Lambert was convicted in the same crime. Still, years of appeals and competency hearings stood between the victims' families and the closure they were looking for. A Creek County jury ruled that Lambert was not retarded just last year, but this latest decision overturns that ruling, Lambert's death sentence, and the victims' families' faith in the courts.

Victim’s mother Delma Houghton: "54 of our peers have sat on that jury and always found him guilty of everything. And with the death penalty, believe me, the jurors had tears in their eyes, it's not easy, but they knew exactly what he was capable of.”

Lambert will now serve life without parole, barring another ruling from the courts. Friday would have been Michael Houghton's birthday.