CLEARFIELD – The main witness in the case against a Madera man charged with murder is asking to be released from jail.
In March Johnathan Maines, 20, allegedly stabbed Joshua Sahm at his Madera residence. Sahm died on his way to the hospital.
During a preliminary hearing in April, Ashley Storm testified that she was at the residence in a bathroom when she heard a scream that day. She came out into a hallway, where she saw Sahm, who had a knife in his back and Maines.
Maines came at her, pushing her toward a back stairway as he ran down the stairs.
Storm has been incarcerated since the murder because District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. claims that shortly after the murder, she stated that she was going to run away to Florida.
Storm’s attorney, Matthew Swisher, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus regarding her incarceration, questioning the need to keep her in jail when she has not been charged with a crime.
Shaw contends she is a key witness and he doesn’t have a case without her.
Tuesday during motions court in Clearfield County, a hearing was held to determine whether she can be trusted to stay around to testify in the murder trial that is scheduled to begin on Jan.28.
Swisher told President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman that there is nothing on record indicating she stated she was going to leave the area.
Shaw replied that Storm told him and the troopers at the scene of the crime that she was going to go to Florida where she has relatives.
At the time of the murder, Storm was homeless and since then she has not been able to provide prosecutors with information on where she is going to live if she is released, he said.
Under oath Storm said she would be living with her parents, other family members and her children in Fallentimber.
Swisher asked her if she intends to testify and she said yes, adding that she has no intention of running away.
During her stay in the county jail, she has not been doing any drugs and she said she doesn’t plan to do any drugs if she gets out.
She explained she has been attending drug and alcohol classes at the jail and plans to continue this path because she wants to be able to regain custody of her children.
Shaw cross-examined her asking if she was living at the residence where the murder happened in Madera.
She admitted she was and confirmed she was using methamphetamine at that period of her life.
Shaw noted that the Madera residence was a house for transient “meth heads” and asked if Storm has had any contact with the renter of that residence.
Storm admitted this individual has been visiting her at the jail about once a month.
She said her relationship with her parents was previously rocky due to her drug use, but her father knows that living with them is better for her than going back to the Madera residence.
Storm’s father testified that he has a sister that lives in Florida, but Storm was never at her home and he isn’t even sure where his sister lives now.
He confirmed that she is welcome to stay at their home, and commented that she looks healthier and “if she stays with me, she won’t be using drugs.”
Shaw asked how he could guarantee this, and her father then admitted he couldn’t.
Swisher defended her saying that they are now talking about “December Ashley” rather than “March Ashley” who was using drugs.
Ammerman commented that it makes sense that she left her kids with her parents while she was doing drugs. But now that she is in jail, is clean and getting proper care, she may not want to go back to using meth.
Swisher suggested that Storm be put on a less restrictive leash such as a GPS anklet or supervised bail.
Shaw stated again his concerns that she would go back to the Madera home. “You’re either free of the drug scene or you are not.”
In the end, Ammerman denied the petition saying because this is a murder case, he did not want to take the risk of her fleeing.
Swisher is expected to appeal this decision.