Photo by George Lauby
Youth Center where stabbings took place
Accused teenage stabber Keenan Lambert, 18, of Amherst, appeared in county court Thursday to face charges of attempted homicide, theft, escape and use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Lambert and another teen, Jordan Baker, 16, of Hastings, were arrested July 9 after allegedly stabbing two women at the Nebraska Youth Center in North Platte, and escaping in a victim’s car.
First, Defense attorney P. Stephen Potter moved to pre-empt the preliminary hearing with a hearing to determine if Lambert is competent to stand trail, but Lincoln County Judge Kent Turnbull denied the motion.
Potter filed a formal objection with the court. Then the preliminary hearing was held to determine if there is enough evidence to bind the case to district court, where felonies are tried.
The victims Diana Johns and Robin Schneider are recovering from their wounds. Both women were in the courtroom for Lambert’s hearing.
Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling called Police Investigator Roger Freeze to the stand.
Freeze said the suspects were arrested in Dawson County as they tried to escape on Interstate-80. They were questioned by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, and both admitted they planned the attack and escape for weeks.
Freeze said Lambert told him that Baker got two knives from a kitchen drawer at the youth center, after offering to clean in the kitchen for extra credit.
Freeze said during days of planning the escape, both Lambert and Baker tried to recruit other boys at the youth center to participate by threatening them. At one point, one of the boys saw a large brown knife handle sticking out of Lambert’s shirt. Lambert told him “Don’t say anything or I’ll kill you.”
Another youth center resident told Freeze that Lambert tried to get him to go along with the attacks by intimidating him -- even choking him at one point. Another boy at the center told investigators that Lambert and Baker talked about the escape in front of him and Lambert said “Don’t say anything or I’ll track you down and kill you.”
Lambert told investigators that at one point he had second thoughts, and he and Baker talked it over in their room for about and hour and a half. Baker called him a “pussy,” which upset Lambert, so he decided to go along.
Freeze said Lambert used a small knife about six inches long and Baker used a large kitchen-style knife in the attack.
Lambert admitted stabbing Schneider three times, then he said he freaked out and stepped away. Lambert said Baker was still attacking Diana Johns at that time, chasing her around a desk.
Schneider had five wounds in her back when treated at the hospital.
Freeze said when questioning Baker, he was told the first plan was for him to bring a car back from an outside visit with family, but he decided not to do that. When asked how they knew which car at the center to take, Baker said he found a set of keys on the desk in the room where the attacks occurred. He pressed a button on the remote key, and the lights came on the car, so they knew which one to take.
Police found a large kitchen knife at the center, but Freeze said the small knife has not been found. Freeze said Baker told him he picked up the small knife and took it with him as they escaped. Baker said he threw the knife out of the car on Rodeo Road, but several police officers searched where he said he threw it but did not find it.
Turnbull ruled that the case should be bound over to the district court.
Turnbull said “clearly the intent was to kill,” based on evidence presented so far.
Both teens are in the Lincoln County Jail. Bonds remain at $2 million each.