Suspect in sensational Palm Springs murder found dead in jail

A suspect who was set to stand trial again in a sensational 2008 murder was found dead Tuesday at a Riverside jail, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He appeared to have been killed, possibly at the hands of another inmate, MPs said.

Kaushal Niroula, 41, was found unresponsive while being held at Cois Byrd Detention Center around 2:30pm Tuesday, according to Deputy Sgt Richard Carroll. Niroula had injuries following an “argument” with 61-year-old Rodney Sanchez, who the department said was also being held in jail.

Sanchez was charged with murder in Niroula’s death, Carroll said in a press release.

Niroula was found guilty of first degree murder in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison for helping plan and being present for the stabbing of wealthy art dealer Clifford Lambert, 74, at his 5,000-square-foot Palm Springs home. Niroula’s conviction was overturned in 2018 and a new trial ordered due to biased and homophobic comments made during Judge David Downing’s first trial.

“Niroula’s first Riverside County trial was set aside based on findings of judicial bias. In preparing for Niroula’s second trial, Niroula worked to uncover other government wrongdoing related to Niroula’s prosecution and expressed on record Niroula’s growing concerns for Niroula’s safety while she was incarcerated in Riverside County,” said Niroula’s attorney, Shaun Sullivan. “I await an opportunity to investigate the circumstances of Niroula’s death.”

Niroula was described in court alongside co-defendant Daniel Garcia as one of California’s most prolific con artists in the early 2000s. Niroula joined New College of California in 2002 as an international student from Nepal. The six years after Niroula’s arrival in San Francisco were marred by a series of lawsuits and crimes, culminating in Lambert’s alleged murder.

Downing was caught at footage taken at the trial making comments about Niroula’s HIV-positive status. The judge said he would not touch envelopes containing motions from Niroula, who represented herself at the trial, because Niroula licked them.

“Oh, gross, and he’s HIV positive. God knows where his tongue has been,” Downing told his clerk in one recording.

Downing also said in the notes that he intends to rule in favor of prosecutors not to separate Niroula’s trial from co-defendant Daniel Garcia because if the two tried together, they could implicate each other.

“It’s every prosecutor’s dream,” Downing said. “He goes on the stand and says, ‘It wasn’t me. He was it.’ The other will take the stand and say, ‘It wasn’t me, it was him.’ Then the jury convicts both. That’s great. That’s why I won’t cut anything. Fuck it all.”

Downing declined to comment on the 2018 footage to the Desert Sun, but said the defendants received “the fairest trial ever – and then some”.

In the first retrial in the case stemming from Downing’s comments, 73-year-old former attorney David Replogle was convicted of first-degree murder, three counts of burglary, two counts of grand theft and one count of identity theft each, as well as attempted unlawful receipt of stolen property, forgery and Allegation of a special circumstance of killing for financial gain in the killing.

A date for Niroula’s retrial has not yet been set, but Niroula was scheduled to appear in court again on Friday. Suspect in sensational Palm Springs murder found dead in jail

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