KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Tuesday the prosecution rested in the trial of Kansas City police Det. Eric DeValkenaere, charged with involuntary manslaughter armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb.
Also on Tuesday the defense called its first witnesses, including two officers who said they saw a gun near Lamb’s body immediately after the shooting in December 2019.
However, a state witness said Lamb didn’t have a gun because she saw his gun at their home earlier on the day he was killed.
Devalkenaere’s defense team pushed back aggressively on this testimony from Roberta Merritt, who lived with Lamb at the time.
The pushback seemed to be intended to curb the narrative prosecutors have been building that this shooting was followed by police misconduct, including that a gun was allegedly planted on the scene. No charges have been filed in that regard.
Merritt, the primary resident at the home where the shooting happened, showed a range of emotions when questioned by the defense team and at one point teared-up while watching Lamb’s Facebook videos, which defense attorneys showed to try to prove Lamb did not have a disabled trigger finger.
Instead the video in ways showed Lamb’s progression from menial labor packing paper products to his growing hopes to own his own business as a mechanic.
But the videos also highlighted his familiarity with guns, firing them off on New Year’s Eve and showing off his supply of ammunition.
But Merritt said on the day of Lamb’s death he did not have a weapon. She said she saw his gun at home before he was shot.
“But on that day when you go in to make that call, is it your memory that you see the gun on those steps?” prosecuting attorney Dion Sankar asked.
“On the third step from the bottom,” Merritt said, referring to when she saw Lamb’s weapon on the stairs to the basement.
But the defense argued Lamb could have had more than one gun and that Merrit’s story about seeing the gun is inconsistent with her original statements.
“The truth is that memories do not get better over time, and there is no logical reason but for lawyers, lawsuits, and indictments that your story would change at this particular time under this spotlight,” defense attorney Molly Hastings said.
“I don’t agree with you,” Merritt said. “The pressure is you trying to change pretty much what I’m saying. That’s where the pressure is.”