By Associated Press - Thursday, February 13, 2020

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A Whitefish man who stabbed his boyfriend to death with a pair of scissors in August 2018 was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.

Ryan Cody Lamb, 35, entered a plea to negligent homicide in December. Under a so-called “ Alford Plea,” Lamb did not admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Lamb was tried in June 2019 on a charge of deliberate homicide in the death of Ryan Nixon, 31, but a jury could not reach a verdict.

Lamb’s defense was that he stabbed Nixon after Nixon poked him repeatedly with a fork during a sexual encounter. He said they had an abusive relationship. He reiterated his self-defense claim on Wednesday and said he was working to achieve a sober lifestyle.

Defense attorney Emily Lamson sought a 10-year suspended prison sentence so Lamb could continue a six- to nine-month treatment program in Portland, Oregon. She said he’s already completed a 13-week addiction treatment program.

Patty Kennelly, a therapist who worked with Lamb, testified that based on her experience, Lamb displayed behavior suggesting he was in an abusive relationship. She said he would do better in an outpatient treatment program and that he wasn’t a threat to the community.

Nixon’s sister opposed the plea agreement and rejected Lamb’s self-defense claim.

“Look at this room, it’s filled with his friends and family,” Ryan Nixon’s sister, Amber Nixon Pederson, said. “For people to say Ryan (Nixon) was abusive is ridiculous. He was always the life of the party.”

District Judge Robert Allison said he believed Lamb and Nixon had a “toxic relationship” but that Lamb still needed to face the consequences of his actions.

“There are some cases where punishment is not the priority,” Allison said. “In this case it should be.”

Allison also ordered Lamb to pay $10,000 in restitution.

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