LEWISTON – The trial for Douglas, L. Tibbitts allegedly shooting his cousin Aaron Brewer in a North Lewiston Trailer Saturday, January 30, ended in its second day on Tuesday. The state and defense rested their case, ending with Tibbitts testifying on his own behalf.
The first witness of the day was Paramedic Kirby Ockwell. He explained to the jury Brewer was classified as critical when he arrived at the scene. Other than the fact there was a gunshot wound, and he treated it, there wasn’t much more to the incident he could testify to.
The state’s last witness was Nez Perce County Deputy McKenzie, again. The state used this opportunity to show another video interview with Tibbitts, allowing the jury to watch as he asked over, and over again, what he did wrong, and explained, visibly inebriated, the series of events from the incident.
He started by saying that Brewer attacked him so he shot him. Then, the story changed to Brewer attacking him two weeks ago. Then, he explained that they ‘tussled’ with each other and he ‘gave him the right hook from hell.’
“He freaked out, and I shot him,” Tibbitts. “I love my cousin… I didn’t want to shoot him… Am I wrong for protecting myself?…”
The defense started their case with Deputy Kris Schmidt, despite hearsay objection from the state, regarding multiple parts of his testimony, which Judge Mark Monson ultimately sustained. Deputy Schmidt testified to a plethora of calls Tibbitts made to his mother, 911, and sister, at various times in the night. He also explained there was no evidence on Tibbitt’s phone that Brewer was called back to the scene 30 minutes before the incident as Brewer previously testified.
On cross-examination, Deputy Schmidt explained that Brewer was shocked when he was told in the hospital he was shot by his cousin and was surprised that was even a possibility.
The second defense witness to take the stand was Tracy Riener, Tibbitts big sister. She explained she received a call from Tibbitts twice the night of the incident. In the first call, Riener could tell Tibbitts was upset and allegedly Brewer would not leave the residence and was going to ‘kick his a**’. Riener testified in the second one, around 9 p.m. Tibbitts stated he needed her to call 911 through sobs. At this point, Tibbitts said to Riener ‘you can talk to [Brewer] but I will kill a motherf***** if he moves’.
She explained to the jury that Brewer was known to be violent and does not have a good reputation, however, she had never seen anything herself. Benita Wetmore, Tibbitts and Brewer’s aunt also mentioned this in her testimony that followed. She further stated she knows Brewer to be a bully.
Next, the old neighbor of Brewer and Tibbitts David Lounsberry testified to the court. He explained that Tibbitts was scared something was going to happen the night of the crime. Lounsberry stated Brewer was allegedly pushing Tibbitts, so he came over to drop off one of his guns so something ‘bad’ didn’t happen. Lounsberry explained that Tibbitts and Brewer would often fight and he believed Brewer frequently belittled Tibbitts. Overall, he described Brewer as violent, aggressive, and more.
In cross-examination, Deputy Nez Perce County Prosecutor Joey Parker explained that what Lounsberry had just testified to was incorrect. This was when Lounsberry realized he had his nights mixed up.
“Do I have the nights mixed up,” Lounsberry said. “Wait a minute, I am an old man… A little PTSD from the service and all.”
At this point, it was uncovered by the state that Brewer came over and had a shot of whiskey with Lounsberry earlier in the day with Tibbitts.
Steven Kennedy, the individual who shared a trailer with Lounsberry, was the next to the stand and helped clarify the story previously told to the jury. He explained after Tibbitts was done with work the night of the incident, he and Brewer came over to their trailer for a short period of time and ‘had a few shots’. After they went home, Kennedy testified that Tibbitts returned to the trailer frightened of Brewer and brought him a 9mm pistol. Kennedy further explained that he heard commotion later in the night, however, he could not pick out any words.
In cross-examination, Parker uncovered that Brewer tried to come over and Kennedy locked him out. She also questioned if Tibbitts would have had a place to stay if he needed it, and Kennedy said yes.
Following this, Tibbitts mother, Sandra McDowell testified to the jury that while on the phone with Tibbitts she became worried after hearing Brewer was going to kick Tibbitts a**. She also explained Brewer has a reputation for violence.
Tim McDowell, Tibbitts stepdad testified that after Sandra received the call from their son, he went over to his sons trailer. When McDowell arrived, he stated Tibbitts was in the doorway with a loaded gun, pointed at Brewer. He then described that he heard the gun go off, however, he never went inside the trailer. McDowell explained he was a mess after the shooting and even had to call in sick for two days following the incident.
In cross-examination, Parker stated that on McDowell’s witness statement, written right after the shooting, he told a different story than he did under oath in court. She explained his witness statement stated he watched Brewer charge Tibbitts, then Tibbitts shoved him, stood over him, and fired the gun. However, McDowell said that was not true.
In redirect, McDowell explained he had another interview the next day with officers, once his head was clear and explained everything he testified to in court today, making his original statement incorrect.
Finally, to end the trial, Tibbitts took the stand to testify on his own behalf. He explained to the jury his timeline of events for the night. Tibbitts mentioned Saturday, January 30 started out with Brewer stopping by his work, taking a few pulls from a bottle of whiskey, finishing up work, and then calling Brewer for a ride home. Once they arrived back at the trailer, the two continued to drink.
Tibbitts testified that the arguing happened after they left the neighbor’s trailer, because Brewer wanted to move his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant, into Tibbitts trailer. When he said no, he stated Brewer got angry
“Aaron grabbed me by the throat, he choked me out,” Tibbitts said. “He strangled me to the point of unconsciousness.”
Then, when Tibbitts said he came to, he gave Kennedy his gun and came back to a quiet trailer. So, he went to bed. At this point, Tibbitts explained that Brewer was banging on his door saying they were going to handle this now. After some scuffling, Tibbitts explained he grabbed a gun from a movie shelf on the way to the kitchen, put a table in between them, and told Brewer to get out. After some threats, Tibbitts outlines the phone calls through blurred memories and the moments leading up to the shooting.
“I wanted to keep him away from me,” Tibbitts said. “I wanted him to leave… I was scared… He was planning to do some pretty serious physical damage… He grabbed me by the neck and pushed me to the ground… I remember reaching back and pulling the trigger… I wanted him to stop attacking me.”
Then, in cross-examination Parker brought up the fact that he testified drinking does not make for the best decision making during his direct examination. Parker then enquired about some of the statements the jury heard Tibbitts say in his interview seen earlier in the day.
“It was just drunk, boisterous, crap,” Tibbitts said. “By midnight, I could have told you the sky was purple… The story I am telling today is true, it is with the jury and the lawyers.”
“The story you told officers on January 30 is significantly different than the story you told today,” Parker said in response.
The case will be kicked to the jury tomorrow, following closing arguments. Daily Fly will continue to update.