Elijah Ray Lambert was arraigned in a Sacramento courtroom Wednesday on suspicion of murder in the fatal bulletproof vest shooting of Miguel Martinez last week in Fair Oaks.
Sacramento County district attorney’s prosecutors earlier Wednesday filed the murder charge against Lambert in the shooting death late May 22 outside Bannister Park. Lambert, Martinez and friends were hanging out at the park when Lambert said he wanted to test the reliability of a bulletproof vest Martinez was wearing, Martinez’s older brother, Thomas Cline, citing witnesses’ accounts, told The Sacramento Bee in an interview earlier this week.
Cline said Lambert reportedly reassured Martinez “Don’t worry, bro,” before pulling the trigger.
Prosecutors, in their brief complaint, allege Lambert fired a .22-caliber handgun, killing Martinez, 19. Lambert returns June 3 to Sacramento Superior Court.
Lambert, 21, appeared calm during the brief afternoon hearing in Sacramento Superior Court, answering Judge Michael Bowman with a clear “Yes, sir,” after Bowman called his name, then read the murder allegation.
He was flanked by attorneys Christopher Parkhurst and Byron Roope, who offered condolences to Martinez’s family following Lambert’s arraignment, calling the shooting a “terribly tragic situation with unintended consequences.”
Sheriff’s officials called the case an “unintentional killing,” but said the shooting was intentional.
“We do not believe the suspect intended to kill the victim, but that was a consequence of his actions,” Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman said earlier this week, adding that no motive had been identified.
Lambert, held without bail at Sacramento County jail since the shooting, also faces a charge of using a firearm as a felon. Lambert was convicted of robbery in 2009 as a juvenile and is barred from owning a gun until he turns 30 years old.