POCATELLO – The trial for the Fort Hall man charged in connection to the 2009 beating death of a well-known local bouncer got underway Monday.
Martin Edmo Ish, 59, is charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Lorne Red Elk was found beaten outside the bar on June 14, 2009. He was transported to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, and he died three days later.
During the first day of trial, the jury heard opening arguments in the case as well as testimony from witnesses who said the night that Red Elk was attacked, Ish was angry after being rejected from two separate Old Town taverns.
She raised the club to defend herself.
Linda Loveday Wood told the jury that she was tending the bar at the Bourbon Barrel on Pocatello’s west side the night that Red Elk was attacked.
Wood said Ish came to the bar with four other men and one woman. Wood easily identified the defendant and said she had not seen him before or since that night.
When Ish went behind the bar and attempted to steal cigarettes, Wood said she told him to leave, but Ish refused. Wood said that Jennie Hill, co-owner of the Bourbon Bar, asked her for a club that was kept behind the bar for self-defense, and she complied.
Wood said Ish was angry and yelling at her.
Hill said she told Ish to get out from behind the bar and leave, or she would call the police. When he turned toward her, Hill said she raised the club to defend herself.
The group of people that accompanied Ish took him out of the bar, and when three of the group’s members returned about 15 minutes later, they told Wood that they had dropped Ish off at Duffy’s.
Wood said she immediately called Duffy’s and gave the bartender a head’s up about Ish.
Hill told the court that it was common practice for the bar to alert other pubs in the Old Town neighborhood about problem patrons.
“Ish was mad about being removed from the bar.”
Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog told the jury — four men and 10 women selected from Twin Falls last week — the murder case was about pride.
Herzog said the state intends to present evidence to show that Ish was angry after being reject from Duffy’s.
“This case is about hurt pride,” Herzog said. “Ish was mad about being removed from the bar.”
Red Elk escorted Ish, who did not have personal identification or money, out of Duffy’s shortly after the bartender received Woods’ call. Herzog said witnesses would testify that they saw the defendant pacing back and forth in the parking lot after he was asked to leave.
Minutes later a patron who was returning to Duffy’s found Red Elk bleeding and injured outside the bar.
Herzog told the court that Heather Davis, who lived across the street from the pub, will testify she saw a man matching Ish’s description attacking Red Elk in the parking lot.
The prosecutor also told jurors that Charles Tademy will testify that he and Ish are old friends and that when Ish turned up at his home on the night of June 14 and needed a ride home he obliged. And after arriving at his residence in Fort Hall, Ish asked Tademy to drive by Duffy’s Tavern and see if anything was going on.
Herzog said that Ish’s cousin, Jennifer Teton, will testify that the next morning, the defendant confessed to attacking Red Elk.
“At the end of this trial, I think that you will find sufficient evidence to find Ish guilty,” Herzog said.
Police were originally called to the bar to a report of pedestrian-versus-vehicle incident. Investigators secured the scene, interviewed witnesses and followed up leads following the murder, but the case went cold.
The VHS tape has since been destroyed.
Ish was arrested in Boise in 2015 shortly after being released from prison on a 2010 charge for possession of methamphetamine. He is being represented by public defenders Randy Schulthies and Scott Andrew.
Andrew told jurors the description of the attacker provided by Davis does not necessarily match the defendant, and he noted that Davis was unable to pick Ish out of a lineup.
He also told the court Teton did to come forward in the case until 2015 when her daughter was called as a witness in the federal murder case filed against Ish’s son, Anthony Ish, that year.
The public defender told the jury that portions of a surveillance video captured inside the bar the night that Red Elk was beaten was not copied in its entirety, and the VHS tape has since been destroyed.
“We’re asking you to use the tools you use every day to determine if you believe something or not,” Andrew said.
Sixth District Judge David C. Nye told the jury to consider all of the evidence before determining their verdict.
“It is extremely important that you not make any decision until you have heard all the evidence,” Nye said.
The trial continues Wednesday and Deputy Prosecutor Ashley Graham said the trial is expected to continue through April 27.
Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison.
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com columnist
Aja Goare, KRTV