LEWISTON – The jury trial for 52-year-old Douglas L. Tibbitts started Monday, May 9 with jury selection and opening statements. Tibbitts was charged with aggressive battery and use of a firearm or a deadly weapon, after he allegedly shot his cousin in a North Lewiston trailer home on Saturday, January 30, 2021.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, filed by the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office, the incident occurred at the 4800 block of Spring View Lane allegedly after a night of drinking. Tibbitts told deputies on the scene he shot 40-year-old Aaron T. Brewer out of self-defense.
The trial started off with an opening statement by Deputy Nez Perce County Prosecutor Joey Parker. She explained to the jury what allegedly occurred on the night of January 30 and the information she plans to bring forward through testimonies, and evidence. Parker explained that Brewer was unarmed and terrified while allegedly at gunpoint for 30 minutes.
The Defense, led by Gregory Rauch, explained in his opening statement they have a different version of the story, and the facts and evidence to prove it. Rauch stated that Brewer had a chance to get away and that Tibbitts called 911, his mother, and his sister for help. He mentioned Tibbitts did everything he could and the real victim in the incident was Tibbitts. Rauch said he had to defend his freedom, defend his own house, and defend himself.
Brewer was the first witness called by the state. He told the jury he and Tibbets had a pretty good relationship. They would get into arguments a lot, however, never anything physical. On the night of Saturday, January 30, Brewer explained they started drinking and started arguing. He left the residence that he shared with his cousin, and didn’t return until he allegedly got a call from Tibbitts asking him to. He stated when he came back, Tibbitts had a gun on him.
“I felt scared,” Brewer said. “I thought I was going to die… I was trying to defuse from what I remember. I remember him trying to get closer and closer, then I got shot.”
Other than that, it was uncovered by the defense, Brewer does not remember many other events from the incident. He stated he drank a pretty substantial amount that night and was ‘pretty tore up’. Defense Attorney Lawrence Moran asked if his blood alcohol concentration of .343% had anything to do with his lack of memory and Brewer stated it did not. Brewer explained he didn’t black out until after he was shot and it was due to the trauma of the situation.
Moran asked if Brewer remembered saying he was going to ‘kick Doug’s a** and he wouldn’t be able to walk again, and stating he would ‘f*** him up’. However, Brewer said he did not. He also testified he was unable to recall calling anyone during the argument, and most of what he said to officers, including telling them the shooting was accidental, how much he drank, and more.
The second witness of the day was lead investigating officer Deputy Darin McKenzie. He outlined what it was like first arriving at the scene that night, as well as, the evidence he found at the scene. The jury watched Deputy McKenzie’s body camera footage in those first moments. The court was able to see as he walked in. Tibbitts had his hands up saying ‘self-defense’ and he would do whatever deputies needed. Meanwhile, Brewer is on the floor asking for help. Deputy McKenzie helped Brewer until medics arrived about seven to eight minutes later. After that, he collected photo, video, and physical evidence from the scene. Based on the investigation, he was able to form the opinion Brewer was shot in the kitchen of the residence by Tibbitts, who was in the living room.
During cross-examination, Deputy McKenzie testified he does not recall seeing any evidence of Brewer being called back to the residence, and that he knows they were trying to get Brewer to leave. He also explained he does not know how long Brewer was held at gunpoint, as it was extremely hard to get information because of the intoxication of everyone involved. Deputy McKenzie also mentioned that based on the evidence, Brewer could not have been standing in, at, or near the doorway when he was shot, as he testified he was.
Deputy Neilson was the next to take the stand. The jury watched his body camera footage as well, starting with Tibbitts being handcuffed. As this is happening, Tibbits stated he would do anything they wanted him to do, and Brewer was “beating the f*** out of him”.
Following this, the day concluded with a video of Tibbitts in an interview room. Deputy Neilson asked Tibbitts a series of questions in an attempt to uncover the details of the incident. Tibbitts started out by saying he only hit Brewer, however, it was just ‘rednecks hitting each other’. Then, when Deputy Neilson stated he was attempting to figure out who shot Brewer, Tibbitts paused and said ‘oh sh**, yes I did’. He explained Brewer was aggressive and came after him in the house.
“He kicked my a**,” Tibbitts said in the video. “It was just self-defense and then ‘bang’… We’re just drunks… I fu**** up dude.”
The trial will resume tomorrow, May 10 at 9:00 a.m., and Daily Fly will continue to update.