CLEARFIELD – The trial got under way Monday in Clearfield County Court for the Madera man who has been accused in the fatal stabbing of Joshua A. Sahm of Blandburg in March of 2018.
Johnathan Blair Maines, 20, has been charged by Trooper Scott A. Sankey of the Clearfield-based state police with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. is prosecuting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. The defendant is being represented by defense attorney Josh Maines with whom he has no family relation. Judge Paul E. Cherry is presiding over the trial.
In his opening statements, Shaw said he planned to ask jurors to convict Johnathan Maines of first-degree murder following his presentation of witness testimony and evidence.
However, the defendant’s attorney, Josh Maines, argued the commonwealth’s witnesses were “druggies” and the jurors would have to find their testimony credible in order to return a guilty verdict.
“Listen and listen closely. You’ll hear the inconsistencies in their stories, and you’ll even hear just plain lies,” he said. “You’ll have to ask, ‘can you find their witnesses credible, can you find them truthful.’”
The commonwealth’s first witness was Ashley Storm, the defendant’s former girlfriend. She resided with him and three others – Rick Weatherholtz, Keith Pinter and Jesse Breeden – at a “drug house” on Main Street in Madera.
On the night of March 19, she said she and Johnathan Maines met Sahm to buy meth, and they brought him back with them. She said all six of them partied doing drugs – namely meth and marijuana – in her bedroom throughout the night and into the daytime hours.
Later March 20, she said a long-time family friend came and left shortly before 12:50 p.m. with Weatherholtz and Breeden to go gather up scrap metal to take to Natalie’s Auto Salvage to get some money.
She was in her bedroom with Johnathan Maines and Sahm, who fell asleep in a chair. She left and went to the bathroom, and the defendant went along with her to see what she was doing, then he went back to her bedroom.
Storm said he seemed “agitated” to her and it was likely because she had been flirtatious with Sahm in front of him.
Moments later she heard “so, you’re going to kill me, huh,” and this statement was followed by an “awful, painful ugh.” When she left the bathroom, she saw Sahm coming from her bedroom, and he had a knife in his back near his shoulder; he was covered in blood and still bleeding.
She said Johnathan Maines ran out pushing her down the hall, saying “go, go … baby, we gotta go.” She said they went down the back stairway to the kitchen, she asked what happened and he replied that he didn’t know.
According to Storm, they met Pinter and ran out to the garage. She said Pinter asked Johnathan Maines what happened and she stated, “I’d like to know the same thing.”
Johnathan Maines, however, didn’t answer and Storm asked for a cell phone, so that she could call 911 and police to get medical assistance for Sahm. Neither Pinter nor the defendant gave her a phone.
She said Pinter wanted to leave because there were warrants out for him. And, Johnathan Maines planned to leave, and both asked her not to tell police they had been present.
When she and Johnathan Maines re-entered the residence, she saw a lot of blood in the upstairs hallway. Storm said they looked down the front stairway and saw Sahm lying at the bottom in a pool of blood.
Johnathan Maines asked her if Sahm was dead and she told him she thought so. She said the defendant washed his hands, changed his clothes and then hid the clothes he had been wearing.
She said she asked the defendant if it was her knife in Sahm, and he told her “actually there were two knives.” She asked what he meant by that, and he replied he didn’t know.
Storm said Johnathan Maines ran out and she didn’t know where he went. Because she had been unable to find a phone downstairs, she went back upstairs and there was blood spattered throughout her bedroom.
She said Sahm’s phone lit up in a pool of blood and she initially tired to call Weatherholtz to tell him what happened. She said there must have been a lock on his phone, and so she made an emergency call to 911.
She said while speaking to the dispatcher, she took Sahm’s cash and bag containing his drugs and hid them in a cabinet. She said she planned to give them back to Sahm once he was out of the hospital.
Under cross-examination, Storm admitted that she did tell state police investigators multiple stories, and they had to really press her for two to three hours to get her to implicate Johnathan Maines.
Faye Willey, an emergency medical technician with Madera Ambulance, said on-scene Sahm was found lying in a pool of blood; however, he was still breathing and had a pulse.
He had a knife blade stuck in his back below his shoulder on the left side, and he was secured to the backboard on his side to prevent having the blade move or further penetrate Sahm.
Approximately 10 minutes into his transport to UPMC Altoona, Willey said that Sahm died and efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
Blair County Deputy Coroner Roger Oswald said he was dispatched to the hospital to investigate the cause and manner of Sahm’s death.
He said during an autopsy, a six-inch knife blade was removed from Sahm’s body and it was turned over to state police. He determined Sahm died from being stabbed, and ruled his death a homicide.
David Vanish, formerly of Madera, testified that a “young guy,” who identified himself as Johnathan Maines, knocked on the door to his Blackburn Road residence around 8:30 p.m. March 20.
He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans but didn’t have any socks or shoes on; he looked about “frozen to death.” He said the defendant asked him to come in to get warm, and he agreed under the condition he could have his pistol on him.
Vanish said he asked Johnathan Maines if he was involved in “that stabbing downtown” and he told him “no, no,” adding he could call anyone to have him checked out.
He said he gave Johnathan Maines some water and soda, and then arrangements were made to drop him off at the bank parking lot downtown, where they were meeting his sister.
Vanish said it appeared the defendant was high on drugs and had been out in the woods because he was scratched up. He said Johnathan Maines was never a threat to him, but that he also had his pistol on him the entire time.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom No. 2 at the Clearfield County Courthouse. It’s been scheduled to run through Friday.