Veteran L.A. County Prosecutor Dies at 55

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Veteran prosecutor Ken Lamb, who tried more than 600 felony cases during a 25-year career with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, has died of cancer, authorities said today. Lamb -- who was called the ``Babe Ruth of felony trials'' by colleagues - - died Tuesday at his Long Beach home at age 55.

He underwent chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer last year, and doctors discovered during a routine check this summer that the cancer had returned throughout his body, according to the District Attorney's Office. One of Lamb's recent high-profile trials involved Stephen Reitz, a Coronado man who was convicted in June 2004 of first-degree murder despite his claim that he was sleepwalking when he stabbed and beat his girlfriend to death in a Catalina Island hotel room.

Lamb also prosecuted the so-called ``Terminator'' murderer, Randall Mount, who was convicted of killing three people he claimed were cyborgs, and Joseph Brian Socha, who claimed he was an angel of God and was convicted of sexually assaulting five women in 1990. He finished trying his 622nd felony jury trial this summer, and during his career prosecuted 109 homicides and 155 sexual assault and child abuse cases, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Lamb joined the Los Angeles Police Department when he was 21 and spent 10 years there. He went to work for the District Attorney's Office in 1983 after graduating from Whittier School of Law. He received numerous awards, including the November 1999 Deputy District Attorney of the Month Award, the 2002 Outstanding Prosecutor Award from Justice for Homicide Victims and a 2004 commendation from the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which noted that colleagues had called him ``the Cal Ripken Jr. of the California trial bar'' and the ``Babe Ruth of felony trials.''

Lamb was honored last week in Long Beach by nearly 200 prosecutors, attorneys, judges and police officers, with District Attorney Steve Cooley calling him ``a legend and a hero.'' Lamb is survived by his wife, Debra, a prosecutor assigned to the District Attorney's Torrance office. No funeral services are planned.