The families of 21-year-old Denita Barrett and 37-year-old Ashley Lambert wept in the gallery of a fourth floor courtroom on May 10 when their loved ones’ alleged killer accepted two concurrent life sentences with the possibility of parole.
Christopher Tyson, who was scheduled for trial on Tuesday, was charged with first-degree murder in each case for fatally strangling Barrett and then Lambert just six days later.
During a plea hearing before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Philip S. Jackson, the assistant state’s attorney said that on March 22, 2021, two people flagged down Baltimore Police Department officers around 12:45 a.m. outside of a home on the 2400 block of Annapolis Road. Once inside, police found Barrett unresponsive in the living room and a cell phone—later identified as Tyson’s—next to her body.
The victim had visible injuries to her face and neck.
Officers’ investigation, including the review of a text exchange between the 23-year-old defendant and the victim, revealed that Tyson went to Barrett’s home and paid for sex. The prosecutor said Tyson called Barrett a prostitute and she became mad, which started an argument.
Tyson then allegedly put Barrett in a chokehold, strangling her to death.
Six days later, Lambert’s body was found faced down on the floor in a room at the Deluxe Plaza Motel on the 6400 block of Pulaski Highway. The prosecutor said Tyson rented the room for the two of them for one night, and Lambert’s body was found by motel staff the following morning when she did not check out.
Police identified Tyson in Lambert’s murder using video surveillance footage to track the defendant’s movement as well as a Visa card transaction he made at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts earlier that day.
On Tuesday morning, family members of Barrett and Lambert consoled one another and addressed the court.
“You tore my family apart,” Barrett’s sister said, looking at the defendant through tears. The victim’s grandmother also spoke, adding that Barrett’s children won’t grow up with a mother.
A member of Lambert’s family told the court that she felt bad for Tyson’s parents.
“I don’t wish him to be killed,” she told Judge Jackson. “I’m not that kind of person, but I know God is going to take care of him in the end.”
She also acknowledged Tyson’s eligibility for parole, saying that “if he gets out of jail, he’ll be right back where he started.”
Tyson apologized to both families.
As a result of Tyson’s pleas, the prosecution agreed to dismiss another case against him, involving rape, sex offenses, assault, armed robbery, theft, and use of a deadly weapon in a third incident that occurred on April 24, 2021.
The prosecutor said the victim in the case said she felt lucky to be alive and “didn’t want to take anything away from those who didn’t survive” by pursuing those charges.
At the conclusion of the hearing, defense attorney Maureen O’Leary informed the court that she will file a motion to modify Tyson’s sentence and requested Tyson serve his time at the Patuxent Institution for mental health issues.
Judge Jackson said he needed more information on the institution before making a ruling.