Robert Earley is behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Emily Lambert, whose body was found in a remote area of a village in Eddy County, New Mexico.
Lambert, a 30-year-old elementary school teacher and mother of two, had been dating Earley for a few months when they decided to go on a trip to Carlsbad.
They checked into a hotel room at the Best Western Stevens Inn in the 1800 block of South Canal Street.
On the night of March 1, 2014, she and Earley, who at the time was a 33-year-old oil field worker, had drinks at the Blue Cactus Lounge, which was a bar located inside the hotel.
The following morning, Earley called the Carlsbad Police Department and reported Lambert missing. He told the dispatcher that he last saw her leaving the bar alone, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Earley asserted that before Lambert disappeared, she told him that she was leaving with another man who “treated her right.”
He said Lambert was intoxicated at the time, and she was wearing a “really cute dress” with high heels.
She left her phone, purse, and identification behind, Earley said.
Earley also contacted Lambert’s family and friends and told them that she had gone missing.
On March 4, Earley, of Euless, Texas, confessed to murdering Lamber during an interview with law enforcement.
He told detectives that while he and Lambert were at the bar, they got into an argument when another man began flirting with her.
Lambert walked out of the bar and returned to their room.
Earley told detectives that Lambert was promiscuous, had a temper, and would often smoke marijuana.
He went on to say that he followed her to the hotel room, where the arguing turned physical.
Earley said he beat Lambert until she lost consciousness. He then put her in his silver vehicle, a 2007 Hyundai Elantra, and drove to a remote area on County Road 31.
When she regained consciousness, they began fighting again. That’s when Earley said he struck Lambert “multiple times with an air pump” before he tied a rope around her neck.
He put the end of the rope inside his car, closed the door, and drove off, dragging Lambert behind the vehicle.
According to some sources, he tied the rope to his bumper.
Earley stopped when he reached a ranch in Loving, where he left her for dead before fleeing the scene. He said he returned the following day to see if she was alive, but Lambert had already succumbed to her injuries.
He then led detectives to Lambert’s body, which was found behind a barn. She was laying face down, wearing only a bra; her clothes were found at another location.
An autopsy revealed that Lambert sustained severe blunt force trauma to her head as well as “scrapes, bruises, and tears.” She was also “alive when she had the pressure applied to her neck.”
Lambert’s cause of death was ligature strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Her ex-husband, who is now reportedly caring for their two daughters, described her as a “one-of-a-kind person.” He added that “she was absolutely special. There was no one like her in the world.”
According to a spokesperson for the Richardson Independent School District, Lambert had recently completed her first year of teaching first grade math and science at O. Henry Elementary School in Garland, Texas.
She began working at the school after graduating from the University of North Texas.
On March 5, 2014, Earley was arrested in Carlsbad and booked into the Eddy County Detention Center, where he was held on a $1 million bond.
He was charged with murder, tampering with evidence, and being a fugitive from justice.
Earley pleaded not guilty to the charges and waived a preliminary hearing.
To avoid a life sentence, the defense team asked the jury to consider finding Earley guilty of second-degree murder.
They contended that on the night Lambert was killed, Earley had been drinking alcohol in the afternoon and well into the night.
With that amount of alcohol in his system, it is their conjecture that he was incapable of planning her murder.
Following a three-week trial at the Eddy County Courthouse, a jury deliberated for a few hours before they unanimously found Earley guilty of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Early’s defense attorney said, “We respect the decision of the jury.”
In May 2015, Earley was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
After his sentencing, Earley spoke briefly. He said, “The guilt and pain I’ve had since that night has [SIC] been a living nightmare.”
He then asked Lambert’s forgiveness, but he stated that he didn’t expect them to forgive him, adding that he would trade places with Lambert.
Earley filed an appeal after his attorney argued that the statements he made to the police should never have been used as evidence against him.
He also claimed that the “court was wrong in allowing the graphic crime scene photos and denying his request for a continuance.”
The New Mexico Supreme Court disagreed and upheld his conviction.