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Day Three of the Demetri Ewing Trial, Lead Detective Brian Erickson Explains Investigation

Nez Perce County

LEWISTON – As the trial for Demetri Ewing reconvened, the state called the one and only witness for the day LPD Detective Brian Erickson who is the Case Agent in charge. He explained the step-by-step process of investigating the entirety of Samuel Johns murder.

Detective Erickson explained when he first arrived at the scene on January 8, 2021, around 1:41 a.m., he briefly examined the residence, then assisted with interviewing individuals that were present during the incident. Around 6:24 a.m., after the warrant to search the residence had been signed, Detective Erickson went back to the Johns residence and began taking photos.

As members of the jury can hear the muffled sobs of Johns family and friends, photos are shown of the inside of the house. One, in particular, showed Johns body, covered in a pool of blood around the head and upper torso.

“I took photos of the entire residence before evidence was collected and anything was removed,” Detective Erickson said. “On the bottom of [Johns] neck, on the left side, I observed what appeared to be an entry gunshot wounds to the neck… His head was lying in a large pool of blood.”

Throughout the home, there were photos of two shell casings from a 9mm in the threshold of the doorway leading to the living room, and one under the head of Johns mothers bed in the living room. There was also a hole with a bullet in the wall directly above the foot of the bed about 4 feet 5 inches from the floor.

Detective Erickson stated all the evidence was sent to various agencies for testing and LPD had identified Clyde and Demetri Ewing as suspects from interviews, video surveillance, and cell phone records.

On January 12, 2021, a search warrant was executed for room 126 at the Hacienda Lodge in Clarkston. Detective Erickson explained various photos, despite a continuous objection from the defense, taken from the initial search. The court was able to see a plethora of pieces of zip ties, and tape that were similar to the ones found at the scene. There were also two cans of vibrant colored spray paint, similar
to the vandalism on the property. Also, a black backpack with a 9mm shell casing similar to the ones found at the crime scene, and two Walmart receipts. One for two zip-up black jackets and one with zip-ties.

Following this, in an attempt from the state to prove the individuals in the Walmart surveillance videos shown yesterday were the Ewings, Detective Erickson was asked to explain the clothing taken from thenEwings upon arriving at their detention centers. These were in fact similar articles of clothing shown in the video.

Lastly, Detective Erickson explained this investigation had been ongoing for the last 15 months. Throughout this time, there were about 30 different people interviewed multiple times each. About eight search warrants and five-six detainers for DNA were executed. Surveillance videos from over 40-50 locations, and cell phone records were viewed, and 40-50 out of 148 items of evidence were forensically

“Based on the investigation, we were able to determine this was not a random attack, it was a planned attack that lead to the shooting and death of Samuel Johns,” Detective Erickson said “[The Ewing’s took a] very direct route to the residence in the early morning hours of January 8… Approached the back of the residence all in black, with gloves, masks, flashlights, and at least one gun… After shooting in the house, they left and appeared to have an escape route set up.”

During the cross-examination of Detective Erickson, the defense asked how he ruled out other persons of interest, particularly Patricia Labombard. In this, it was revealed to the jury that Labombard had electrical tape in her purse on the night of the incident that matched the scene. However, this was not tested because she explained to officers she had it to fix a pair of glasses. The defense also questioned
again why officers did not look into the .38 pistol that Labombard allegedly had in pawn.

Bullets were another point of contention for the defense. Lawrence Moran asked Detective Erickson if he would be surprised to learn that a “9mm, a .38, and a 380 all have the same caliber”. Moran also continued to ask why the bullets found in the home were not sent for an examination, so an expert could prove what gun they came from.

“I am familiar with 9mm bullets, I have shot them almost my entire career.” Detective Erickson said in response. “I know what they look like, [and] I know what they look like when they have been shot.”

The last questions of notability for the day were around Ewing being kicked out of their residence at the Hacienda Lodge on December 23. When asked, Detective Erickson said he did not know when he was back at the residence, however, he did know it was sometime before January 8 from a CPD officer.

Court will reconvene tomorrow at 9 a.m. and Daily Fly will continue its daily updates.