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Woman charged in daughter’s overdose death trying to get charges dismissed

UPDATED: Fri., May 12, 2017, 10:25 p.m.

A Spokane attorney is trying to get his client’s controlled substance homicide charge dismissed, arguing there isn’t enough evidence to prove she delivered the drugs that her adult daughter took to commit suicide.

The prosecutor in the case said there’s plenty of evidence.

Carol J. Lambert and her daughter, 23-year-old Sarah Malinak, were both found in a room at the Mirabeau Park Hotel in Spokane Valley on Oct. 19, 2015. Malinak was dead but Lambert was alive and conscious.

Lambert was arrested in March 2016 in connection with the death of her daughter. She is also facing a charge of promoting suicide.

A note found at the scene said both Lambert and Malinak intended to commit suicide.

The Spokane County medical examiner ruled that Malinak died of combined drug toxicity due to ingestion of hydrocodone, morphine, diphenhydramine, fluoxetine, lorazepam, cyclobenzaprine and acetaminophen. Lambert had the same drugs in her system but in much lower doses, according to court documents.

Investigators found vacuum-sealed bags with names of drugs written on them in the hotel room, court documents state. Lambert is a registered nurse and was also a hospice volunteer, which gave her access to drugs.

At the time of her arrest, Lambert’s husband told investigators that Lambert had talked about suicide after her son committed suicide in 2015, but Malinak had not. He also said Lambert told him she had been accumulating drugs for the suicide attempt for some time and had vacuum-sealed the packages to preserve them, according to court documents.

However, defense attorney Christian Phelps said in court Friday that Lambert’s husband plans to claim spousal privilege and will not testify against his wife.

Without those statements, there isn’t any proof that Lambert provided the drugs, Phelps said.

“For all we know Ms. Malinek gathered all the medications,” he said. “There’s not sufficient evidence of delivery.”

Prosecutor Mark Lindsey said Lambert’s handwriting compared strongly to handwriting on the plastic bags and on the suicide note. While Malinak had previously had a prescription for hydrocodone, it was out of date, he said.

“She didn’t have any access to it for a year,” he said. “If you have material, disputed facts, you cannot dismiss. We have disputed facts going on here.”

Lindsey also questioned why there were half-empty bottles of liquor in the hotel room, but Lambert didn’t drink and there was no alcohol in Malinek’s system. “Part of this is being staged,” he said.

In court documents, Lindsey has argued that Lambert never intended to go through with the suicide and as a nurse would know what dose of drugs to take to make her sick but not kill herself. Lambert had also previously told her son that Malinak, who had a low-paying job and high student loan debt, was a financial burden. Malinak lived at home at the time of her death.

It’s also suspicious that Lambert was found lying on top of Malinak in the hotel room, which could indicate that she was trying to stop her daughter from reaching the door to get help, Lindsey said.

“The reasonable inference from the evidence is that Ms. Lambert consciously planned out a very complicated scenario to establish the illusion that she had engaged in a mutual suicide pact with her daughter, yet she ingested nowhere near the amounts of controlled substances as did Sarah Malinak as evidenced by their respective blood screens,” Lindsey wrote in court documents.

Judge Raymond Clary said he will rule on whether the charges should be dismissed at a later date. The case is currently set for trial on June 5.


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