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Cottonwood Heights man will face murder charge in wife's death
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cottonwood Heights police Officer Thom Daugherty approached the door of the duplex knowing a killer might be awaiting him on the other side, someone he knew. He knocked.

Dennis Wayne Lambdin partially opened the door, and the officer asked if Lambdin had done something stupid.

"I've done something horrible," Lambdin supposedly answered, and a murder scene began to unfold. It would become, on that day in 2009, a scene with two knives, a ceramic globe and Lambdin's dead wife in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.

That's the version of events according to the testimony of Daugherty and fellow Officer Dan Bartlett during Lambdin's Friday preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court.

Lambdin, 61, is charged with killing his 41-year-old wife, Touch Choun, on Aug. 17, 2009.

Daugherty said he arrested Lambdin on the porch of the 2192 E. Fort Union Blvd. duplex as it became clear Choun was dead and Lambdin was a possible culprit.

Bartlett said Lambdin confessed that day, explaining he repeatedly stabbed his wife during a fight at the home. Officers further testified they found a heavy ceramic globe that Lambdin told them he had used to bash his wife in the head.

As officers explored the home, a rope hung in the hallway. A dog was discovered in a back room. A bloody knife with an 8-inch blade sat near the sink, close to the body.

Physician Todd Grey, chief medical examiner, testified Choun was stabbed at least 16 times and beaten. Grey, who did the autopsy, was asked on the stand about the effect of the punches.

"They would have been painful ... possibly rendering her unconscious," Grey said.

The officers testified of previous visits to the home and were aware the couple were having arguments, including allegations between the couple of an affair, a previous pregnancy and heavy alcohol use.

But that's not what helped Daugherty predict what might have happened as he approached the door that summer morning. He had been warned.

Cottonwood Heights police had been notified that a Pennsylvania man received an e-mail from Lambdin shortly after the killing. Police were told the e-mail was a confession from Lambdin, and it included a threat that he would kill himself.

So, the rope, police were told, was for suicide.

Bartlett said surveillance cameras at a nearby Home Depot had taped Lambdin that morning in the store buying the rope. It confirmed part of the story that Lambdin reportedly told officers about what he did after allegedly killing his wife of nearly a decade.

Bartlett went on to say that Lambdin wept as he told the officer of a spontaneous attack that was triggered during the fight. Choun said she hated him, Lambdin allegedly confessed to the officer.

Defense attorneys argued their client's extreme emotional distress was cause to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter. But Judge Randall Skanchy disagreed and set an arraignment for Jan. 7.

Lambdin's attorneys said he would plead not guilty.

dweist@sltrib.com

At hearing, medical examiner says woman was stabbed 16 times.
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