Nez Perce County Prosecutors Office
LEWISTON – The murder trial for 17-year-old Demetri Ewing, began today, April 12 with opening statements from Nez Perce County Chief Deputy Prosecutor April Smith and defense representation from Lawrence Moran.
Ewing is being tried as an adult for first-degree murder for the shooting and ultimately death of Samuel Johns, on January 8, 2021, with Nez Perce County Judge Jay Gaskill presiding over the case.
In her opening statement, Smith explained the evidence shows Ewing’s allegedly planned and prepared for the crime at hand. She mentioned the evidence will allegedly show the two left their room at the Hacienda Lodge wearing all black and rode their bikes to Johns house.
“[Ewing] entered Sam Johns house to rob, burglarize and settle a score, but he left a killer,” Smith said. “The evidence will show their planning and preparation did not stop them from being careless… Dropped items and surveillance videos pick them up showing their paths… This trial of evidence will also lead you, and prove to you Demetri is responsible for the killing.”
The defense reserved their opening statement for a later date.
The trial started with the state’s witnesses taking the stand. Mary Easley, a Lewiston Police Dispatcher for almost 15 years was the first to take the stand to describe what the 911 call was like. The call was ultimately played to the jury after an objection from the defense was overruled by Judge Gaskill. The jury was able to hear what it was like the moment leading up to officers on the scene.
Throughout the call, you can hear the cries for help from Patricia Labombard begging Easley to hurry as he is still breathing, triggering the family in the courtroom to get emotional. Labombard stated two individuals wearing a mask broke in and shot Johns in the neck. One she describes as a woman and one as a man. Easley urged Labombard to administer CPR once it was reported bubbles were coming out of his mouth. After that, the call ended as officers had responded.
Labombard was the next to take the stand. She painted the picture for the jury from a first-hand account as she was the individual there when the incident occurred. Labombard explained she went over to Johns house to “listen to music, hang out, and smoke some weed”. She mentioned as she walked into the kitchen, two individuals barged in, and one was armed.
“I couldn’t tell what they looked like, they were wearing all black, [possibly] wearing gloves and had face coverings on,” Labombard said. “One seemed younger and more feminine sounding and one was an older male.”
She then explained she had a gun pointed at her and was zip-tied on the ground, by the one she referred to as more feminine. Labombard then explained that the individual got distracted and left the room. She further explained this was when she was able to escape the zip ties and hide in the bathroom.
Seconds later, Labombard explained she heard two to three gunshots. She then describes hearing the two individuals come back to the kitchen, look for her, and leave. Labombard then mentioned she walked out and saw Johns on the floor.
“[He was] on his back, with his feet facing his mom like he was trying to protect her,” Labombard said. “I watched him take his last breath. I have never seen life phase out of someone’s eyes, and I will never forget it.”
The defense led by Moran proceeded to ask Labombard multiple times if her real intention in going to Johns house was to sleep with him, in an effort to show she was not giving the full truth to the jury. However, this was overruled. Moran also questioned Labombard on drugs. This lead her to explain that she saw Meth in the home.
“My memory is I watched someone die,” Labombard said in response to the defense. “Yes I saw a pipe, and maybe they did do meth. I really don’t remember, I am not trying to lie to you guys”.
The defense also had further questions regarding Labombard recalling one of the suspects was a woman. They stated Labombard allegedly said in her original statement, “I am telling you it was a man and a woman.”
The next four witnesses were various members of law enforcement. Lewiston Fire Department Paramedic Roby Spooner explained that he was the first individual to get to the body with life-saving efforts. He explained there was a lot of blood and what appeared to be an entry wound right below Johns neck. LPD K9 Officer Chris Reese, LPD Officer Andrew Fox, and LPD Detective Zach Thomas explained the scene a little more, giving detail about zip ties found in a path behind the residence, tracks, footprints, and a Walmart bag with electrical tape, and another pair of zip ties on 8th Ave. Boulevard.
To end the day, the State called Whitman County Deputy Bryson Aase who is a member of the quad city drug task force. Deputy Aase was reached out to by LPD to surveillance room 126 at the Hacienda Lodge. He was told by LPD to look out for both Ewings in question. Deputy Aase explained he watched two individuals, one taller and one shorter, both wearing masks, exit the room and alerted detectives. This ultimately lead to both individuals being detained.
After, Aase pointed out Ewing in the courtroom to let the jury know he was the “shorter” individual identified by police.
The trial will begin again tomorrow, April 13 at 9 a.m. and Daily Fly will update as the case continues.