PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The lone survivor of a triple shooting that resulted in the deaths of two men testified in open court on Monday describing his wounds and lasting physical and emotional pain.
Joshua Wiebe described his relationship with Anthony Howard and Eric Takemoto as being so close he considered both men to be brothers. He grew up with Howard. Their friendship spanned about 20 years. Wiebe had known Takemoto a slightly shorter time. He told the jury that Takemoto was always smiling, always someone he could trust.
The three men gathered at the Hourglass Pub in Northeast Portland on October 2, 2015 to celebrate the birthdays of their mutual friends. Wiebe and his girlfriend, Meagan Saban, got to the bar before most of their friends. The bar served as a neighborhood watering hole for the group and their friends.
Wiebe testified that when he and Saban got to the bar, he grabbed a drink and a friend of his introduced him to a man named Robert Richardson Jr.
Richardson was at the bar by himself. Other witnesses have testified, prior to October 2, 2015, they had never seen Richardson at the bar before.
Wiebe said he and Richardson played a round of pool, and that the game was friendly.
“Everything was cordial,” Wiebe testified. “We shook hands.”
Wiebe said he and Richardson played three games of pool inside the Hourglass Pub. There wasn’t that much conversation, Wiebe said.
When the games finished, the two men parted ways.
Wiebe would then find himself running outside to the bar’s parking lot that doubled as a smoking area after hearing his name yelled out. He testified he believed it was Howard who was calling out his name.
Wiebe and the bartender on-duty at the time share the same first name. Both men ran outside, with the bartender going first, Wiebe just steps behind.
“I remember, running outside,” Wiebe testified.
The next thing he remembers was seeing a flash of light.
“I heard the gunshot but the flashes of light were, if it makes any sense, louder than the gunshots,” Wiebe said.
By the time police showed up, Howard and Takemoto were dead. Both men had been shot multiple times. Wiebe had been shot in the leg. He recalled being on the ground with people tending to his injuries.
He was rushed to the hospital, not knowing the condition of his two close friends.
A police officer at the hospital started questioning Wiebe. He described it as an interrogation. He asked the officer how his friends were doing.
“When I asked him…” Wiebe said. He paused. He took a deep breath. He looked to the side. It was clear Wiebe was testifying about the most emotional part of that night. “…When I asked him about how my friends were doing, [the officer] said, ‘you wanna know how your friends are?’ And I said, yes. He said, ‘they’re dead.’”
Wiebe, looking down, shook his head as he recounted the news that was delivered to him with what appeared to be no sympathy.
“Just like that,” he said.
Senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield said, “that’s how you learned that they were gone?”
Wiebe, fighting back tears, said “yes.”
Meagan Saban, Wiebe’s girlfriend, said she was with Wiebe after the shooting.
“He laid in my lap and I prayed that he wouldn’t die,” she told the jury on Monday. “It was like a dream, like a fog.”
Since the shooting, Saban said Wiebe has undergone two surgeries. He spent a week in the hospital and two months using crutches as his leg healed. The couple lives together and has a child.
“We both are broken,” she recalled of the shooting’s impact on their family.
Oregon State Police forensic scientist Leland Samuelson testified on Monday that he was able to conduct testing on the firearm that Portland police say they recovered at the time of arresting Richardson.
The firearm, a .357 caliber Sig Sauer handgun, was described by Samuelson as being “fairly powerful” on the scale of weapons and that it fires a “very fast bullet.”
Samuelson said his office is able to conduct comparison testing on a gun’s barrel and on a fired bullet, if recovered, to determine if they are a match.
“What was the result of your analysis,” senior deputy district attorney Nathan Vasquez asked of Samuelson in regards to a bullet recovered from Howard’s body. “I concluded that that bullet was fired from this firearm.”
Upon cross examination, criminal defense attorney Russell S. Barnett III pressed Samuelson if any of his examinations were able to determine the mind set behind the person pulling the trigger.
“No,” Samuelson said.
“Does a person have to intentionally pull the trigger, each time to fire it,” Vasquez asked.
“Yes, they do,” Samuelson said.
Jennifer Nelson, an Oregon State Police DNA scientist, testified about a hat that was recovered from the scene of the alleged crime. Prosecutors have said that the hat belonged to Richardson and that it was knocked off during the fight outside in the parking lot and smoking area.
Nelson determined, based on the samples that she tested, the hat’s interior headband matched the DNA profile of Richardson. The estimated frequency of someone matching that same DNA profile is less than 1 in 10 billion people. Nelson said she recalls there being 6.5 billion people in the world’s population.
The state is expected to call its final witness – a Portland Police Bureau homicide detective – as its last witness on Tuesday. Once that witness testimony is completed the jury will be excused until Oct. 16 when the defense starts to present its case.
The case is being presided by Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.