Holly Zachariah The Columbus Dispatch
CIRCLEVILLE — As she pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, it was a very different scene for Tara Lambert on Wednesday in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court than it was two years ago when she was on trial here.
Back then, the former model treated the courtroom as a stage, mugging for cameras and seemingly enjoying the attention paid to her attractive outfits and stiletto shoes as her attorney made her looks a part of her defense.
A jury convicted her back then of one of the charges, finding that Lambert paid a man — who turned out to be an undercover sheriff’s detective — to kill Kellie Cooke, who is the mother of two teenagers who then were Lambert’s stepdaughters. Their father has since divorced Lambert, 35.
A jury acquitted her of conspiring to kill Shawn Cooke, Kellie Cooke’s husband. Judge P. Randall Knece sentenced her to seven years in prison.
In June, however, an appeals court threw out Lambert’s conviction, citing a paperwork error in the original indictment. Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford charged her again earlier this month, and that led everyone back to court Wednesday for her first appearance on the same charges as before.
She has a new attorney, Sam Shamansky, and he had promised there would be no flashy outfits this time and only proper courtroom behavior would be exhibited.
Lambert, dressed in black pants and a plaid shirt, appeared to be several months pregnant. With her sister and parents in court as support, she said nothing as Shamansky entered her not guilty pleas.
Knece allowed Lambert to remain free on a recognizance bond. He set a trial date for April 23.