Nez Perce County
LEWISTON – As the trial for Demetri Ewing, opened back up today, the court formally denied motions from the defense to dismiss arrest videos and DNA results from the evidence presented to the jury.
The defense led by Lawrence Moran was attempting to get the two pieces of evidence, not been presented to the jury quite yet, off the record due to late disclosure from the State. Moran explained that Mr. Ewing does not have the ability now to gather witnesses and experts to dispute the evidence due to the timing.
“[The courts’ ability is] drastically altered after the seating of the jury,” Judge Jay Gaskill said in response. “In reviewing case law, the most recommendable solution is a continuance, which is not within the courts’ realm at this time. I don’t know if it was tactical, whether or not, it gravely changed the courts’ opinion and I am going to deny the motion.”
After this was debated, the jury was asked back into the room and the state began calling witnesses. The first two were Clarkston Police Department officers at the of Ewing’s arrest. Officer Brian Denny, who has been with CPD since 1999, explained to the court he was off duty on the day of the arrest, however, he was asked by Chief Hastings to come in and assist with writing up the search warrant for the Ewing’s room at the Hacienda Lodge. When he heard word of the two being arrested, he went to the location to assist, then went back to working on the search warrant.
Officer Tom Sparks, an officer in Clarkston for the last five years, explained to the jury that he was familiar with the Ewing’s from about half a dozen prior instances and knew Demetri’s voice well.
“I am familiar with his voice,” Officer Sparks said. “[Ewing] sounds like a young juvenile, he can very well be mistaken as a male or a female.”
Officer Sparks further explained when he detained Ewing, he knew the two were known to carry weapons, so he drew his firearm and asked the two to get on the ground. In cross-examination, the defense questioned why he would use such measures if they were not being arrested, just detained.
“I was detaining them,” Officer Sparks said in response. “They were homicide suspects, they were wanted for questioning.”
The next two witnesses were individuals who worked at the Nez Perce County Detention Centers. Deputy Jordan Hill, who has worked at the Adult Center for about five years, and Deputy Brian Davenport, who had been with the Juvenile Center for 12 years. They explained the process for storing booked individuals’ belongings.
During the defense cross-examination, Deputy Davenport was questioned about the height of Ewing when booked. This revealed to the Jury he was approximately 5’2, despite testimony yesterday from Patricia Labombard. She stated she was 5’2 and knew the suspect was a few inches taller than her.
Next to the stand was Virginia Higheagle, Ewing’s aunt, and co-parent with Patrick Johns, an individual living in the house with the victim Samuel Johns. Higheagle explained she was called by Demetri and his father about a stolen backpack. When she went to the Johns house to look around for the bag. She found the words “bag” spray-painted in three separate places on the property. Higheagle also explained
she found medical and court papers belonging to Demetri’s father scattered around the front yard.
“It was my dad’s green army bag,” Higheagle said. “It was the last thing Clyde had from our father. I called them and told them they didn’t know nothing about a bag, but they didn’t believe me and they believed Patrick had it.”
During the cross-examination, the defense questioned Higheagle about Demetri’s involvement. She explained Demetri never said he wanted the bag, just that his father did. She also explained that they lived together and were together all the time.
“When he was on the phone, his dad was right there listening,” Higheagle said.
Following Higheagle, the state called LPD Officer Jason Leavitt to the stand to explain how the evidence connected traces back to Ewing. He explained he found two tags for black hooded sweatshirts and went to Walmart to see which ones they were. Later in the investigation, Officer Leavitt went back to Walmart and searched for zip ties similar to the ones found on the scene. Once he did, he obtained
video footage that showed what he believed to be both Ewing’s.
“Based on the clothing, stature, and the wallet with an EBT card and identification during the purchase, it was Clyde.”
Next to the stand was Walmart Asset Protection Assistant, Aaron Allen Core. He walked the jury through what it is like gathering the video and how he is able to track individuals throughout the store. Following this, videos were shown to the court of two individuals, heavily clothed and masked, with only eyes showing from entering the store to leaving.
The video shows two subjects lock their bikes up, walk-in, fill their carts with various items, two of which are packages of zip ties, and checkout. At this point, the smaller individual begins bagging some of the groceries without scanning them. The taller one opens their wallet, with cards showing, and paid for what is scanned. Then, two Walmart employees approach and check the receipt, as well as, the screen. After the employees leave, the taller individual takes cash out and they leave the store again on bikes.
After, another video is played showing two individuals, on a later date, buying two zip-up black hoodies, as well as, a plethora of other items. The older individual again opens his wallet showing the inside, pays, strolls around the store, and leaves.
During the cross-examination from the defense, Core stated he could not tell from the video if the two individuals were the Ewing’s. He also could not tell the individual’s gender or height.
The case will continue tomorrow, April 14 at 9 a.m. Daily Fly will continue daily updates as the case continues.