LEWISTON – On the second day of the Clyde Ewing trial, the jury learned more about detectives’ first moments arriving at the scene and how they pieced a trail of evidence together allegedly leading them to Ewing and his teenage son.
First to the stand for the day was Aaron Core, the Walmart Asset Protection Associate at the time of the incident. Core explained how he obtained videos for officers of Clyde Ewing buying zip ties on January 1, 2021. The court was able to watch the clips showing Ew ing and his son walking through the store and checking out. In the end, members of the jury saw Ewing’s open wallet showing an EBT and ID card.
A video from January 5, 2021, showing the same two individuals buying two black hooded sweatshirts was also played to the court. Ewing’s open wallet is also seen at the end of this video.
Next to the stand was the Case Agent, Lewiston Police Department Detective Brian Erickson, who walked the court through each detail of the investigation. The night of the incident, Detective Erickson explained he walked the perimeter, did an initial walkthrough of the residence, went back to the police station to conduct interviews with witnesses, and returned to the scene to search the residence once a warrant was granted.
At this point, photos are shown of the Johns residence after the shooting, including a photo of Samuel Johns body. Detective Erickson described the home as cluttered. However, he was able to find a plethora of evidence, including zip tie handcuffs in the kitchen, two shell casings in the doorway leading to the living room, and two bullets. Detective Erickson explained that evidence was photographed, collected, and sent off for additional testing. With that evidence and more, Detective Erickson testified LPD was able to rule out other persons of interest and named Ewing and his 16-year-old son as suspects.
Photos of room the Ewing’s were living at the Hacienda Lodge was shown to the court next despite a continuing objection from the defense. Here, members of the jury see photos of pieces of, and whole zip ties, tape, a black backpack with spent shell casings matching the ones found at the scene, bright colored spray paint, mountain bikes, and much more.
Detective Erickson testified the zip ties and the tape were similar to what was found inside the Johns residence and around the area.
The property the Ewing’s had on his persons, on the day of his arrest, also were shown to the jury despite another continuing objection from the defense. Photos of Ewing’s tribal ID, and EBT card were among these which Detective Erickson said he had seen before in the Walmart videos. The last four of the EBT can also be seen on the Walmart receipts previously collected into evidence. The clothing from each individual was sent to a lab for gunshot residue testing and Ewing’s jacket also appeared to be the same seen in the Walmart video on January 1.
After interviewing over 30 individuals multiple times, executing 10 search warrants, six detainers, contacting 30-40 businesses for surveillance videos, and more, Detective Erickson was able to form the opinion Clyde and Demetri Ewing planned the murder of Johns.
“What happened in the early morning hours of January 8, 2021 at the Sam Johns residence was a planned event, it was not random,” Detective Erickson said. “They took an indirect route to the back of the house… They took with them specialized equipment… They wore all black and covered their faces… They were only in the house for a short amount of time before Sam Johns was shot and killed… When they left that night, they seemed to have a planned escape route because they were able to leave the area in a quick amount of time.”
During cross examination, Detective Erickson explained there was about seven to eight grams of methamphetamine in Samuel Johns nightstand and paraphernalia was found in other rooms of the house as well as marijuana. Defense attorney Rick Cuddihy’s questions uncovered that Johns was allegedly working on selling drugs to his neighbor’s that were working on their cars late into the night. Erickson also explained there was a total of five cans of spray paint found at the Hacienda Lodge and a majority of the evidence seized was on the queen bed, used by Demetri, in room 126.
Chris Higheagle, brother to Ewing, took the stand next to testify the Ewing’s lived with him for about a month, however, they were kicked out. Higheagle explained he was threatened by Ewing to give the bag back, ‘or else’. He stated that it was the last thing Ewing had of their dad. In cross-examination, Cuddihy said this was the first time Higheagle had testified to this. However, in redirect, it was proved Higheagle did testify to this issue in the preliminary hearing.
Virginia Higheagle, Ewing’s sister and co-parent with Patrick Johns, also testified to the bag that Ewing had this alleged obsession over. She explained photos to the jury of the words ‘bag’ spray painted in green and pink on the Johns residence. Higheagle explained that Clyde asked her multiple times to go to the Johns residence and look for his green army bag. In cross-examination Cuddihy asked where these texts were and how she was not able to get them back. Higheagle simply explained the phone was broken.
Patrick Johns, brother of Sam Johns, was the last witness for the day. He testified that the back door of his home was typically unlocked. Johns stated that the Ewing’s had been outside the home once before, months before the shooting and a couple times in December of 2020. Johns explained he had no idea what bag was being talked about and the spray paint on his home was confusing. Through muffled sobs, Johns describes his point of view from the night of the incident.
“I was completely distraught,” Johns said. “I wake up and I cry every morning.”
Court will resume Wednesday, May 18 at 9:00 a.m. and Daily Fly will continue our daily updates.