february 19, 2014 (iredell)
Two weeks to the day after he was convicted of first-degree murder, Bernard Lamp was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing Bonnie Lou Irvine nearly six years ago.
The same jury that convicted him Feb. 5 deliberated a little more than four hours over two days before recommending the death penalty in Iredell County Superior Court.
Although it is called a recommendation, Judge Ed Wilson is required to accept the jury’s recommendation and, after asking each juror if that was his or her recommendation, he pronounced the sentence on Lamp.
Prior to the sentencing, Wilson asked Lamp if he had anything to say. He made no comment and left the defense table as the jury was exiting the courtroom.
The death sentence will be automatically sent to the N.C. Court of Appeals for review. That is standard in all death sentences.
It is likely to be several years before the death sentence will be carried out. The last execution in North Carolina was in 2006. There are currently more than 150 inmates on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh.
Lamp showed no reaction as Wilson read the jury’s recommendation. One of his attorneys, David Freedman, rested his head on his hand, as he had been doing since the jury knocked on the jury room door and indicated a recommendation had been reached.
Irvine’s sister, Debbie Powers, who was the first witness in the guilt phase and who has been in court for most of the trial, showed no reaction.
Wilson complimented Powers and her two brothers, who also attended much of the trial, for their support.
“You’ve done your sister proud,” he said.
District Attorney Sarah Kirkman and Assistant District Attorney Carrie Nitzu hugged Powers after court was recessed.
Kirkman said she was satisfied with the jury’s decision.
“Ms. Nitzu and I respect the jury’s decision, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family at this time,” she said. One of Lamp’s two defense attorneys, Vince Rabil, walked over and shook hands with the prosecution.
The sentencing phase brought to an end a case that began in mid-March 2008 when Lamp was arrested driving Irvine’s Volvo near Troutman. Irvine had been reported missing on March 8 but was last seen by her roommate at their Cornelius home on Feb. 28.
That’s the day, according to trial testimony, that she met Lamp in person after contacting him two weeks earlier via a Craigslist ad placed by him.
Her body was found the day after Lamp was arrested. She was buried in the backyard of a home on Weathers Creek Road that belonged to a friend of Lamp’s. She had been beaten and strangled, either one of which could have caused her death, according to expert testimony.
This was the first case in Iredell County in which a jury recommended the death penalty since 2010 when Andrew Ramseur received the death penalty for killing two people at a Statesville convenience store during a robbery in 2007.