Testimony underway in Ish murder trial

Martin Edmo Ish

Martin Edmo Ish

By Shelbie Harris, sharris@journalnet.com

POCATELLO — Witness testimony continued at the Bannock County Courthouse Tuesday in the second-degree murder trial of Martin Edmo Ish, the man accused of beating Eugene Lorne Red Elk to death in 2009 outside of Duffy’s Tavern in Pocatello.

Though the witness’ statements have been inconsistent over the course of the investigation, Bannock County Prosecutor Stephen Herzog said, one thing that’s remained the same was the description of the individual who assaulted Red Elk.

Based on that description, the prosecution believes that person was Ish.

Several witnesses took the stand Tuesday, fielding questions from prosecutors and the defense to establish a timeline of events, a layout of the bar in relation to the witness’ location and various observations from the night of Red Elk’s death nearly eight years ago.

Deposition began with a former bartender at Duffy’s, Jodi Walker, formerly known as Jodi Pack, testifying that the night of Red Elk’s death it was karaoke night.

She said she remembered seeing a tall man enter the bar dressed in dark clothing with a do-rag on his head. The man sat at the bar and she requested to see his identification. The man fought it at first, explaining that he wasn’t going to drink.

Walker persisted, however, and the man threw her an out-of-state identification card that, according to her, contained Ish’s information.

While reviewing the card, Walker received a phone call from employees at the Bourbon Barrel, another bar in Old Town, warning Duffy employees that Ish was disorderly and en route to their location.

Red Elk, a part-time bouncer at Duffy’s, approached Ish shortly after and told him to leave, according to Walker. After escorting Ish out of the building, Red Elk returned and said he needed to deliver some cigarettes to his girlfriend, Walker said.

She concluded her testimony by saying there was surveillance inside the bar overseeing the cash register, but said there is no surveillance outside the tavern.

After a recess for lunch, the next witness subpoenaed by Bannock County prosecutors, Jonathan Gilbert took the stand.

Gilbert said he was at Duffy’s with his mother on June 14, 2009, the night Red Elk died. He said Red Elk carried himself well in his part-time bouncer position, saying he was “gentle” but “assertive” and that it seemed like “he cared.”

Before removing a tall man with dark complexion and dressed in dark clothing from the bar, Gilbert recalls Red Elk escorting a Hispanic male out. When Red Elk returned, according to Gilbert, it looked like he had a black eye, with visible swelling, bruising and ruptured blood vessels in the eye.

“I asked (Red Elk) if he was okay,” Gilbert said. “And (Red Elk) said, ‘I’m fine, I’m just here to help people.’”

But during cross examination, Gilbert confirmed he was sitting about 20 feet away from where the taller, dark-complexioned man was sitting at the bar and that distance remained the same throughout the night.

The next witness to testify, Robert Hess, said he was at Duffy’s the night in question with his girlfriend, Marcie White, and friends Scott and Narci Kimball.

Both individuals were soliciting him and his group for cigarettes and money for alcohol, according to Hess.

Both Hess and Gilbert were unable to recall whether the taller, dark-complexioned man was in fact Ish, but provided a general description of the man Red Elk escorted. Hess said the man looked to be in his late ‘50s, was about six feet tall weighing 200 to 220 pounds and dressed in dark clothing with a red skull cap.

Narci Kimball testified that upon returning from driving a friend home from Duffy’s that night, she discovered what she thought was someone’s coat outside. Upon closer examination, she realized it was Red Elk.

Kimball said that initially, Red Elk was unresponsive but when she prepared to begin CPR he started gurgling blood from his mouth. That’s when she rushed into the bar to call the police.

Throughout much of her testimony after the initial recollection of seeing Red Elk lying injured on the ground, Kimball responded by saying, “I don’t recall.”

In 2015, police investigators asked Kimball to identify a Ish from a lineup as a potential suspect, which she was unable to do.

Witness testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Bannock County Courthouse in Pocatello.

The charge of second-degree murder carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.