JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY—-The prosecution rested its case Tuesday after the 9-1-1 recording made by the victim’s brother moments after she was stabbed was played in the courtroom. Beth Bolton Penna and Wayne Langerholc are prosecuting the case on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office, Defense Attorney Tom Dickey is representing the defendant.
Demetrius Gibson is on trial for murder in the stabbing death of his girlfriend Elizabeth Miller from August 2013. The 22-year old and once Homecoming King is facing a first degree murder charge. Miller was stabbed in a carwash bay in Johnstown’s Moxham neighborhood, she bled to death after a major artery was hit.
19 witnesses testified on behalf of the prosecution since the trial began last Thursday, some were called to the stand more than once. On Tuesday the hearing was started later than expected after a picture surfaced on social media taken during the trial from last week. The judge ordered Cambria County Sheriff’s to take everyone’s cell phone and made them go through security a second time. The judge said he will find out who took the picture, phones were banded from the courtroom.
A crime lab technician from PSP started off testimony, then two neighbors who lived next door to the couple at their Tire Hill home in Somerset County also testified. They told the jury they heard fighting, and banging- they even heard Miller asking for her phone and keys because she wanted to leave. They also called 9-1-1 to report the disturbance. The jury also saw surveillance video from the bar next to the car wash. The video showed the cars coming and then Gibson leaving but did not show anything that happened inside of Gibson’s SUV. Detective Larry Wagner was also called to the stand and finally the Robbin Melnyk from the Cambria County 9-1-1 testified on how calls are recorded. The prosecution then played the heartbreaking 9-1-1 call Miller’s brother Quinn made seconds after she was stabbed. It brought many to tears, Gibson put his down and hands over his face. His family also become emotionally as it was played, one family member was seen holding her hands in the prayer position. It was the first time Miller’s family heard it as well and wept the entire call, the victim’s mom couldn’t hold back her tears as she heard her son and daughter on the tape. Miller told the operator his sister was stabbed by Gibson- He kept repeating "don't die on me I can't lose you-please hurry she says she's going to die I can't lose you Lizzie." The judge ordered a short recess and then the prosecution rested its case.
The defense called four witnesses before the close of day three. Two were friends of Gibson, the other two were detectives from Johnstown Police. The first to testify was Ryan Sisco. He told the jury he had been friends with Gibson since first grade. He also went on to tell everyone how a few days before the murder Gibson and ‘Lizzie’ were fighting. Miller was the aggressor and went after Gibson with a hammer and even a knife at one point, she even hit him several times. He even mentioned how the police showed up but no one answered the door, they hid. Family members of Gibson were shaking their heads during the testimony. Sisco said he only met Gibson’s attorney the other day and decided to tell the defendants family about the fight prior to the murder a few days ago. The prosecution asked Sisco he if was a ‘good-life long friend’ why he waited until only the other day to come forward? Sisco said Gibson’s sister told him he needed to talk to the lawyer.
The second witness to testify was brought in by court order from a military base in California, he too a friend of Gibson for at least five years. He also told the jury he only decided to come forward with the information recently. He testified to a similar story Sisco told. The couple had a rocky relationship and fought a lot, but it was Miller who was the aggressor not Gibson he only tried to defend himself. He stated the police showed up but no one answered the door.
Two detectives were questioned on interview policies and how things were documented. The defense tried to show the neighbors had been coached on their testimony by the prosecution. Dickey claims that was done because the testimony of them stating they heard Miller ask for her keys and phones and wanting to leave was never mentioned in the original written reports but was said during the trial.
The trial is expected to wrap on Wednesday, it was moved from the Johnstown courtroom at the complex back to the courthouse in Ebensburg. It’s unclear if Gibson will take the stand in his own defense.
The defense plans to rest sometime Wednesday, before closings and deliberations.
GIbson is facing possible life in prison if convicted of first degree murder. He was offered a plea deal more than once of Murder in the third degree where he would have faced about 20 years in jail for the death of Miller but he turned it down.
Seating has been limited throughout the trial due to the large amount of family and friends on both sides.