Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Stewart Lambert has asked that a special prosecutor be assigned in the case of his son, Zachary Lambert, 20, of Cherokee Village. The younger Lambert is charged with attempting to commit an armed robbery for drugs. Circuit Judge Harold Erwin has also recused himself from the case.
Lambert and John Thurman, 22, of Cherokee Village have been charged with one count each of aggravated robbery, a class Y felony, and one count each of aggravated assault, a class D felony, following an incident in Cherokee Village on Jan. 8.
Incident reports and the affidavits for warrant of arrest for Lambert and Thurman state that at approximately 9 p.m. officers were dispatched to the home of John Lamberth, 53, in Cherokee Village after reports of gunshots being fired.
According to the incident report, when Officer J. Creameans with the Cherokee Village Police Department arrived at the scene he was told by Lamberth that his 14-year-old son had came into the house and told him some boys were outside robbing his brother, Justin Clark, 19, of Cherokee Village; Clark resides in a small building located on the same property as Lamberth's home.
Lamberth stated he grabbed his gun and went outside where he saw a bunch of boys. He said he yelled at his son, Justin, "What's going on?" and was told two boys with masks on their faces were trying to rob him. Lamberth said he yelled at the boys, who then took off running, firing shots in his direction; he said he returned fire over their heads. Cherokee Village Police Chief Larry Smith said evidence collected at the scene indicates Lamberth fired 13 shots and the suspects fired five shots.
The incident report states Jacob Holloway, 19, of Cherokee Village, told Creameans one of the boy's masks had slipped off and he had recognized him as Lambert. The report said Clark, Holloway and another boy who was present when the incident occurred, Jake Newhouse, 19, of Cherokee Village, all stated both of the masked boys had guns.
The affidavit states Clark and Newhouse both said they personally knew Lambert and recognized his voice. Holloway stated he called Lambert by name while the alleged robbery was taking place, asking him what he was doing. Holloway said Lambert responded by asking him if Clark had any money.
According to the affidavits Lamberth said the suspects got into a black pickup truck that was parked on an adjoining street and he watched them speed away. Holloway and Newhouse stated that Lambert frequently drives a black pickup truck.
According to the affidavits, Special Agent Mack Thompson and Special Agent Phil Carter with the Arkansas State Police interviewed two witnesses on Jan. 9 who stated that late on the night of Jan. 8 they had a conversation with Lambert and Thurman in which Lambert admitted he and Thurman had committed an armed robbery at Clark's residence, and that Lambert had fired shots.
The affidavit states Thompson interviewed Thurman on Jan. 9 and Thurman admitted he and Lambert had come up with a plan to rob Clark of drugs they suspected he had.
The affidavit read: "Thurman stated the two boys drove to Clark's residence in Lambert's black truck and concealed their faces with bandannas. Thurman stated that Lambert, who was armed with two handguns, kicked in the door to the residence and demanded drugs from the occupants while he, Thurman, watched the door. Thurman stated that after the victims refused to comply he and Lambert fled the scene. Thurman stated that while they were fleeing, Lambert fired several shots at the people standing in front of the residence they had just left. He further stated that shots were fired from the residence at them."
Though the wording of both affidavits for Lambert and Thurman is essentially the same, Thurman's affidavit differs in that it states, "John Thurman did on the 8th day of Jan. 2002 attempt to rob Justin Clark, Jacob Holloway and Jake Newhouse at Clark's residence in Cherokee Village and through the use of an armed accomplice, Zak Lambert, did attempt such robbery." Lambert's affidavit states, "… through the use of a firearm, did attempt such robbery." According to Thompson, this indicates Thurman is being charged as an accomplice.
Thurman was arrested on Jan. 9 and was incarcerated at the Sharp County jail pending his first appearance hearing on Jan. 10 where he appeared in a standard orange jail uniform. Lambert was arrested on Jan. 10 an hour before his appearance hearing and was never officially incarcerated.
Both boys appeared before Municipal Judge Kevin King on Jan. 10 for their first appearance hearing where bond was set at $20,000 each. No prosecutor was present at the hearing; Attorney Mark Johnson represented Thurman, and Attorney Larry Kissee represented Lambert. Lambert's mother, Ramona Lambert, and Thurman's father, John Michael Thurman, signed the boys' bonds. Both boys were released on signature bonds, which did not require any money to be posted.
Prosecutor Stewart Lambert filed a motion for designation and appointment of a special prosecutor on Jan. 10.The motion states, "That on Jan. 8, 2002, certain events occurring in Sharp County, Ark. have resulted in an investigation by the Arkansas State Police. That Zachary Lambert is the son of Prosecuting Attorney Stewart Lambert, and is a subject of the investigation. That to avoid any appearance of impropriety or ethical conflict, Prosecuting Attorney Stewart K. Lambert hereby moves this court to appoint a special prosecuting attorney to fully investigate, and if necessary, prosecute any offenses arising from the within described Arkansas State Police investigation, and to relieve and excuse all personnel of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney from the investigation and any prosecution in the matter herein."
The motion requests the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator to designate a licensed attorney to prosecute the matter. Prosecuting Attorney Stewart Lambert signed the motion.
On Jan. 11 an order of designation and appointment of special prosecutor was filed; it states, "This court finds a sufficient basis to grant the motion for designation and appointment of a special prosecutor made by the State of Arkansas. That the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator has designated Will Feland, a licensed attorney, to serve as special prosecutor herein and further, Will Feland hereby accepts said appointment as special prosecutor." Circuit Judge Harold S. Erwin signed the motion.
After signing the appointment on Jan. 11, Erwin filed an Order of Recuse. The order states, "Comes now on the 11th day of Jan. 2002 on the Court's own motion and for good cause shown the Court does herby recuse himself and does hereby request that the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court assign another Circuit Judge to this case." A new judge had not been assigned at press time of the The News.
Lambert and Thurman are scheduled to appear in the Sharp County Circuit Court on Feb. 27.