DNA from wig solves Portland cold case murder

DNA from wig solves Portland cold case murder

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 1:19 PM

PORTLAND -- The case is finally closed on a Portland murder that happened exactly 20 years ago this month.

Portland Police Bureau cold case detectives used new DNA technology to solve it, and now a well-known former gang member is going to prison.

The victim, 26-year-old father of two Brian Hill, was gunned down in front of his home on North Gay Avenue by two gang members who prosecutors say were trying to rob him back in 1994.

Deputy D.A. Chuck Sparks tells KGW Hill was a working family man, but sold $10 bags of marijuana in the neighborhood to help support his family. He was not a gang member, and Sparks said they were such low-level sales that Hill would not be considered a drug dealer.

The suspects had planned to steal some of the marijuana.

Background: Cold case unit breaks 1994 Portland murder

A wig used as a disguise was left at the crime scene, but in 1994 DNA technology wasn't sensitive enough to get evidence off of it, prosecutors say.

Detectives reopened the case in 2010, and finally got a positive match to Marvin Lambert, now 38. Lambert was in prison for cocaine and firearms possession when a grand jury indicted him last year on murder charges.

Prosecutors said Lambert was a well-known member of the Kerby Blocc Crips gang in the '90s. Sparks said another notorious Crips gang member, Harry Villa, actually fired the fatal shot. But Lambert was an accomplice. Villa was killed in prison in 1999.

Hill's daughter, Cameo Hill, who was only 8 years old at the time, spoke at Friday's plea and sentencing.

"I never had anyone to protect me, to help me through anything, and that's because of the decisions you made and it was selfish and it was stupid," Hill told Lambert through tears.

Lambert accepted a plea deal for manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday. He apologized in court, saying he's a changed man from 20 years ago, something the victim's family has waited for.

"I heard sincerity," Lamar Hill, the victim's brother told the media after the sentencing. "I'm sure he probably changed his ways. He was young when he did it but it doesn't take away from the gravity of his actions. You've got to pay the cost."

Portland's cold case division has solved 40 cases since they started in 2004.

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