A former model, whose conviction in a murder-for-hire case was overturned last year, says she was found guilty in the first place because her attractive appearance and sexy outfits turned jurors against her.
Tara Lambert, 34, of Ohio, was dressed to kill in court, donning five-inch stilettos, tight-fitting dresses and an eye-popping diamond ring as she faced felony charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.
A black and white checkered dress Lambert donned during the trial sold out everywhere after she was pictured wearing it in court.
But Lambert believes her choice of courtroom attire may have negatively impacted the people who mattered most: the jury.
“They were worried about my wardrobe rather than what was really going on,” she told Inside Edition.
Lambert was accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband’s ex, Kellie Cooke.
She allegedly set up the hit during a meeting in a parking lot, unknowingly meeting with an undercover detective.
“Nice to meet you,” Lambert can be heard saying to the man in footage captured by a hidden camera.
“What do you want done with her?” the man asks.
“Just put her in a chopper — like one of those lumberjack chopper things,” she says.
The undercover officer responds, saying, “I don’t carry a lumberjack chopper, but —"
Lambert cuts him off, saying: “Oh, just kidding. Like, that’s how much I hate her, though.”
Police busted Lambert 20 minutes later.
She was stunned after investigators told her the “hit man” she met was a cop and everything she said had been recorded.
“What?” she says in a video recorded by police.
During her trial, which took place outside Columbus, the jury heard that Lambert had 24 cosmetic surgeries during her career as a model.
She also believed she was portrayed unfairly by the media as “a brainless, heartless, ex-model,” she said.
Her outfits also apparently backfired.
“Sometimes people focus on the wrong details and when they are confronted with those details day after day after day, sometimes what matters gets lost,” her new attorney, Sam Shamansky, told Inside Edition.
It took the jury just 42 minutes to find her guilty.
Lambert was sentenced to seven years in the Marysville Reformatory for Women, a women’s prison considered so tough it was featured on National Geographic’s Hard Time.
“It was just traumatizing,” Lambert said.
But she appealed, and in June, a judge overturned her conviction in light of an error made in the language of the indictment.
A conspiracy to commit aggravated murder charge requires prosecutors to state a specific “overt act” on Lambert’s part.
”Did she buy a gun, for example? The prosecutor had to spell out exactly what that underlying overt act was that contributed here,” Shamansky told The Columbus Dispatch. “The state did not do that.”
Lambert, who is no longer married to her husband, was set free and it could be many months before she can be retried. Prosecutors are asking the Ohio Supreme court to reverse the decision which led to her release.
If she does go to trial again, Shamansky said his client will not be wearing designer duds during trial.
“Juries pick up on things and when you are in a court of law you are not at a discotheque,” he told Inside Edition. “You ought to dress accordingly.”