PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The man accused of being at the scene, and also firing a semi-automatic gun, when a husband and father died in 1994, pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree manslaughter and will spend 12 years in prison.
Marvin Lee Lambert, 38, entered the change of plea before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric J. Bergstrom.
Lambert was indicted May 24, 2013 a Multnomah County grand jury and faced two counts of murder. He pleaded guilty to the lesser included charge of first-degree manslaughter. The plea came about three weeks before the trial was scheduled to start — on the 20th anniversary of the shooting.
Investigators with the Cold Case Homicide Unit with the Portland Police Bureau started reviewing the case in 2010 when the bureau submitted a wig to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab for DNA testing. The wig, found at the crime scene, had been in police evidence since the May 19, 1994 killing. DNA results came back to Lambert.
The victim, Brian Hill, died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center June 21, 1994. He had been shot one time, senior deputy district attorney Chuck Sparks said. Two guns were used in the shooting: a 45-caliber and a 9-millimeter, police said. The guns have never been found.
While Hill was not in a gang, investigators believe Lambert, and the other suspect, who died in prison before ever being criminally charged, Harry James Vila III, were both Kerby Blocc gang associates.
Villa was murdered in 1999 while in prison, Sparks said. Because he died before the case was solved, he could not be indicted. Sparks said the fatal gunshot that killed Hill was likely fired from Villa’s gun.
According to an media reports at the time murder, Villa was assaulted by two other inmates in the recreation yard or the prison.
Sparks called the death of Hill “completely senseless.”
“He was a standup father,” Sparks said. “He was shot and killed over little next to nothing.”
Detectives believe the motive for the killing was robbery. Sparks said investigators found a total of seven casings at the crime scene, located in the 6400 block of North Gay Avenue. Both firearms used in the killing were semi-automatics, Sparks said. Investigators believe Villa fired the first round that struck Hill, and that Lambert, who was at the bottom of the driveway, started shooting when he heard Villa start shooting.
“I’ve been waiting for this day a long time,” Cameo Hill said.
Cameo Hill was 8 years old when her father was murdered. She said she still remembers the night, but doesn’t speak publicly about it.
“My life has been turned upside down,” she said to Lambert in court. “My dad is never coming back.”
Cameo Hill said she probably won’t ever forgive Lambert for the role he played in her father’s death.
“I think you are a coward,” she said. “And you will reap what you sew.”
Lambert spoke softly and briefly during the 13-minute hearing.
“It’s not my intention for what happened,” Lambert said. “I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I do apologize and I pray that you will be able to forgive me.”
It was an apology Cameo Hill didn’t seem to accept as she recalled the memories her father missed because he was killed.
“I never had him there to protect me, to help me through anything and that’s because the decisions that you made.”