White supremacist gangster and killer Michael Lamb (pictured) trotted into a heavily guarded Orange County courtroom this afternoon, chuckled with his lawyers and watched quietly as a court clerk announced the jury's verdict: death.
But the proceedings, which took less than two minutes, nearly left Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh 0-2 in his attempts to give Lamb, a career criminal and member of Public Enemy Number One's (PEN1) Death Squad, the ultimate punishment. A lone, sobbing female juror sitting in the back row remained silent when Superior Court Judge William Froeberg polled each juror if they agreed with the announced verdict. Visibly distraught, the women looked at Lamb when Froeberg re-asked his question, grabbed her face with both hands, sighed and finally answered, “yes,” only after jurors on the front row turned around and stared at her. No one could argue this jury hadn't experienced unforgettable trauma—the crime scene and morgue photographs alone were nightmarish. (Froeberg offered free counseling services, and several jurors accepted.)
Lamb took the verdict calmly, unlike his appellate lawyer, Kristen Erickson. A forceful advocate to spare Lamb from San Quentin State Prison's notorious death row, she sobbed. In one of those odd, rare moments you wouldn't anticipate, the killer gently rubbed circles on Erickson's back and whispered in her ear.
Moments later–after the jury left the courtroom, Orange County sheriff's deputies escorted a smiling Lamb to a holding cell for his trip back to jail. He didn't glance at the audience. If he had, he would have seen that none of his friends, fellow gangsters or family attended.
“This jury worked very hard and did the right thing,” Baytieh told the Weekly. “Mr. Lamb deserved the death penalty. It's just and correct.”
Last year, another jury convicted the 34-year-old Lamb (and his pal Jacob Rump) for the 2002 ambush execution of Scott Miller in Anaheim and the attempted murder of an undercover police officer, but deadlocked on punishment.
In coming months, Baytieh is scheduled to seek the death penalty for Billy Joe Johnson, another vicious PEN1 member/drug addict, who claims he alone murdered Miller for talking to a FOX Channel 11 Los Angeles investigative reporter. In 2004, Johnson–a native of Costa Mesa–killed a young man in Huntington Beach with a steel claw hammer. A fan of Adolf Hitler, Nazi lore and methamphetamine trips, Johnson calls courthouses, “The House of Jews.”
Additional articles about PEN1, Lamb and Johnson can be found in the Weekly's online story archives.
— R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.