LEWISTON – The fifth day of the Demetri Ewing trial started off with Idaho State Police DNA Analyst Eric Seat’s testimony meant with quick objection questions from Defense Attorney Greg Rauch regarding his qualifications. However, the examination was eventually allowed.
Seat walked the jury through what it is like collecting and testing DNA. In this case, he received a swab from the tape on the zip tie handcuffs found at the scene. After comparing to the reference DNA provided, Seat was able to determine it was 23,500 times more likely to be a match to Demetri compared to a member of the general population.
In cross-examination, the defense questioned if 23,500 is low considering the cut-off to determine a conclusive match was 100. Seat explained numbers can go up to the millions, trillions, and nonillions for a perfect match, however, 23,500 is far from 100, reiterating it is conclusive Demetri is a possible match. The defense also questioned how it would be possible Clyde Ewing’s DNA was inconclusive, yet Demetri was named as a possible match if DNA profiles include information from the mother and father.
“I can’t speculate how it got there,” Seat said. “I can just say there was DNA from three people on there.”
The state witness, Allison Laneve from RJL Group appeared via Zoom to explain the process of finding and testing particles characteristic of gunshot residue on the nine items received from LPD. Laneve explained that all four articles of clothing she received belonging to Demetri Ewing had particles characteristic of gunshot residue, and each article had multiple two-particle molecules, consistent with gunshot residue.
Meanwhile, four out of five articles of clothing belonging to Clyde Ewing contained particles consistent with gunshot residue, one with particles characteristic of gunshot residue, and one with nothing.
“[This] means the individual wearing these clothes [either] discharged a firearm, was in proximity or was nearby when a gun was discharged, [or] was in direct contact with someone who fired a weapon,” Laneve said.
In cross-examination, Lawrance Moran questioned Laneve if RJL Group was able to determine if the individual wearing the clothing was the one that fired the gun.
“All I can say is the gunshot residue is there, and there are three potential ways it could have gotten there,” Laneve said. “Whether or not it is one or 100 those same three potential scenarios are possible… Just because someone has gunshot residue on their clothing does not mean they directly fired a weapon.”
Before a lunch break, the state called Patrick Johns to the stand. Through muffled tears, Johns explained he was home the night of the incident and woke up to the gunshots that killed his brother. He testified that in December, he “chased off” the Ewing’s after he caught them banging on the Johns residence window. He explained he watched them ride run off south, through an alleyway, and up a grass hill. Similar to what others have testified as a possible route for the individuals who committed the murder.
In cross-examination, the defense questioned if Johns physically saw who killed his brother, and why he told police he knew it was the Ewing’s. The defense also stated Johns told police “I’ll tell you right now, it was Clyde and his son. I know it in my f****** heart.” However, again the defense asked how he could know that to be true if he did not physically see it.
The next state witness was William Schneck, an expert in trace materials analysis and owner of the forensic consulting business, Microvision Northwest. Despite objection from the defense, he walked the jury through his analysis of various pieces of evidence. Schneck was able to come to the conclusion that all the zip ties found at the scene, the Hacienda Lodge, and the new package from Walmart detectives traced back to the Ewing’s from video evidence, were composed of the same chemistry, color, and shape. He in turn, formed the opinion they were all from the same source.
In terms of electrical tape, Schneck was able to determine, with the same analysis, all the pieces found at the Hacienda Lodge, as well as, at the scene, (aside from the one-piece found on the levee bypass) came from the same source. As for duct tape, Schneck was also able to determine the tape found at the crime scene was consistent with the roll of duct tape found at the Hacienda Lodge. However, there is a possibility they are from different rolls considering none of the ends matched up
During cross-examination, Rauch questioned Schneck that if 90% of zip ties come from a factory in China, could individuals get multiple bags, from a plethora of stores, and they could be considered the same source. Schneck said he wouldn’t say they were always the same, however, he didn’t compare them to other sources so he couldn’t say for certain.
The last witness of the day was Clarkson Police Department Sargent Brian Odenborg. He explained to the court, that as he was driving for another task during his shift, he drove past two individuals, dressed in all black, straddling large mountain bikes, with headlamps, and wearing masks at the intersection of 5th St. and Bridge St.
“It was odd seeing that in the middle of the night, two individuals dressed similarly standing there on the corner,” Sargent Odenborg said. “[After] I continued south to the police department. I believed in my mind it was Demetri and his father, based on the numerous contacts with them we had the entire year leading up to January.”
In cross-examination, Moran asked Sargent Odenborg why he waited for a little over a month to report the sighting. Sargent Odenborg stated this was because he didn’t think anything of it until after he heard of the incident that took place.
Court will reconvene Tuesday, April 19 at 9 a.m. Daily Fly will continue its daily updates as the case continues.