A woman charged with controlled substance homicide and promoting a suicide attempt in connection to her daughter’s death has had all charges against her dropped.
Carol J. Lambert and her daughter, 23-year-old Sarah Malinak, were found in a room at the Mirabeau Park Hotel in Spokane Valley on Oct. 19, 2015. Malinak was dead, and blood tests showed that both women had ingested a variety of drugs, though Malinak had significantly higher levels of drugs in her system than Lambert. A note at the scene indicated that both women meant to commit suicide, according to court documents.
Prosecutors filed charges asserting that Lambert, a nurse and hospice volunteer, had provided the drugs Malinak used, including hydrocodone and morphine. Her husband told police that Lambert had informed him that she had been accumulating drugs for the suicide attempt, court records state.
However, he planned to claim spousal privilege so he would not have to testify against his wife.
Lambert’s attorney, Christian Phelps, filed a motion this year to have the controlled substance homicide charge dropped, arguing that there was not enough proof that Lambert provided the drugs.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary agreed with the motion and dismissed the controlled substance homicide charge last month. He wrote in his opinion that the state bore a responsibility to prove that Lambert provided the drugs and that Malinak died from those drugs. In his opinion, Clary found fault with the information provided by the state.
“There is no specific analysis of facts that provide an inference of a genuine issue of material fact for Ms. Lambert’s alleged delivery of hydrocodone or morphine to Sarah,” he wrote.
This week, the prosecutor’s office moved to dismiss the charge of promoting a suicide attempt due to lack of evidence, said Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell.
Phelps said he’s pleased by the outcome. “I thought we had a pretty strong legal argument,” he said.
He said Lambert is also relieved, but has been dealing with a lot since her daughter’s death. “It’s not like she’s jumping for joy,” he said.
Lambert has not been working as a nurse and an investigation by the Washington State Department of Health into whether her license should be pulled has been on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case. That investigation will now be revived, Phelps said.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt that she was acquitted of these criminal charges, but there are more issues to address,” Phelps said. “They’ve got a very broad spectrum of what they consider inappropriate.”
The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission suspended Lambert’s nursing license on an emergency basis in May 2016. The diversion and accumulation of drugs was a “premeditation of a scheme,” the commission wrote.
“When that individual is a registered nurse and carries out the scheme resulting in the death of her own child, such conduct evidences a licensed health care provider who poses an immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare,” their decision read.
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