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Lambert arraigned in murder-for-hire plot

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Trish Bennett, Editor

Tara Lambert (left) listens to the judge with her attorney, James Kingsley, during her arraignment on Wednesday. (Photo by Trish Bennett)

CIRCLEVILLE – The woman accused in an alleged murder-for-hire plot pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court.

Tara J. Lambert, 32, of Circleville, was indicted Aug. 7 by the Pickaway County Grand Jury on two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.

She was arraigned on the charges Wednesday, and a pretrial hearing in the case is set for Sept. 18.

The two intended victims are reportedly Kellie Cooke, the ex of Lambert’s husband and mother of his children, and her current husband, Shawn Cooke, both of Scioto County.

Lambert is currently under house arrest, according to Judy Wolford, Pickaway County Prosecutor, after being released from the Pickaway County Jail on 10 percent of a $100,000 bond in the case. Her bond was recently reduced from $500,000, which was set at the time of her arrest.

Judge P. Randall Knece upheld her house arrest Wednesday in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court, granting her privileges to leave the house only for meetings with her counsel and scheduled court dates.

Knece also issued a stay-away order from the two intended victims.

Lambert was arrested outside of Walmart about 6 p.m. July 28 after allegedly attempting to hire someone to commit the murder of Cooke and her husband.

According to Sheriff Robert Radcliff, a tip led to an undercover operation through his office in which Lambert met with an undercover Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy in the south business district off U.S. Route 23 in Circleville that evening, finalizing plans for the crime and exchanging money and a photograph of the intended victim.

If convicted, Lambert faces three to 11 years in state prison and a $20,000 fine for each charge.

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal