Someone other than the three men accused of killing Adam Wells saw him when he was hog-tied with 84 feet of rope wrapped around his ankles, wrists and neck on Oct. 5.
Brian Davis, 29, said during a Justice Court hearing Friday that he walked in on Danny Shaw and Tyler Cruz as the two men allegedly beat Wells in Shaw's garage on Stanford Drive.
Shaw, 21, Tyler Cruz, 24 and Juan Cervantes Jr., 20, are accused of murdering Wells and dumping his body off Brunswick Canyon Road in East Carson City. A fourth man, Fred Bechtold, 20, is charged with helping the men clean the home where Wells was lured.
Davis said Shaw called him on Oct. 5 to ask for his help because he had caught someone stealing from him. Wells was allegedly caught stealing a safe from Shaw's bedroom.
About 8:30 p.m., Davis went by the Stanford Drive home and saw Wells' truck backed up to the garage. When no one answered his knocks on the door, he walked in and noticed a shoe lying in the kitchen. After walking through the darkened home calling for Shaw, he eventually made his way into the kitchen where he noticed blood on the floor.
"There were five or six smears going through the kitchen on the linoleum in a straight line. They were going to the garage. I followed it to the garage," he said.
Davis' testimony was often laced with long pauses and heavy sighs as he described Shaw and Cruz in the garage standing over what is believed to have been Wells body wrapped tightly in a blanket.
"I walked in on them beating the guy with a bat," he said with a scoff. "Both of them just looked at me. Danny said, 'I'm sorry you had to see this.'"
He said he also saw Shaw strike Wells on the head three times with a hammer.
"When he would move, that's when they'd strike him," he said. "It looked like full force blows with the bat. The guys were angry."
"I told them he needed medical attention and I bent down to help the guy out and Danny said, 'Just back away. Don't help him.'"
Davis said the scene was too much for him and he was afraid for his own life.
"Walking in on something like that - I just wanted to get out of there," he said.
Questioned by Shaw's attorney Scott Freeman, Davis admitted he didn't tell police he went into the home the first time he talked to them. Freeman also noted Davis never told investigators he witnessed Shaw with a hammer or hitting Wells.
"When you first went to police, you lied to them and told them you didn't go in the house," Freeman asked.
"Yes, sir," Davis said. "I just didn't tell them everything."
Forensic pathologist Dr. Christie Elliott said strangulation coupled with about seven noticeable blows to the head forceful enough to break the "full thickness of the scalp" killed the 20-year-old Carson City man.
"Were it not for the injuries described, I would not have been examining Mr. Wells. I would not have expected him to be dead," she said of the body builder and fitness instructor who was otherwise in good health. "Mr. Wells died of multiple injuries and the most severe and immediate was the ligature and the duct tape around his mouth."
An examination of Wells' blood did not reveal any alcohol or drugs, she said.
Elliott was one of five people to testify during Friday's hearing.
Two other witnesses, Chris Barr and Malcolm Young, said they knew of events surrounding Wells assault.
Young, who was the first person to go to police with information 24 hours after the killing and was initially charged with gross misdemeanor concealing evidence, pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser charge of misdemeanor interfering with a peace officer in exchange for his testimony in the case.
Young testified Friday that he helped set up a video camera that captured Wells' alleged thievery. He also said Shaw told him he and Cruz beat Wells and left his body in the hills. He admitted to throwing away shoes worn by Cruz and Shaw during the assault.
"Why did you take the shoes?" District Attorney Noel Waters asked.
"I did know there was a crime," Young said. "I didn't know this guy was dead."
Defense attorney Freeman pointed out Young's plea to a misdemeanor charge was the equivalent of a traffic ticket.
"And the reason you were allowed to plea to something like a traffic ticket is in exchange for your testimony, isn't that right," Freeman asked.
"Yes, sir," Young said.
Barr said he went by the home after Cervantes called him and said Cruz and Shaw beat Wells with a bat. He said he never went inside because Cervantes told him Wells was OK and they were going to recover the safe he allegedly stole.
The hearing is expected to continue Thursday with testimony from the four investigators who worked the case.
Shaw, Cruz and Cervantes are all charged with principal to open murder with the use of a deadly weapon, principal to kidnapping in the first degree with use of a deadly weapon, principal to battery with the use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, accessory to a felony, conspiracy to commit a crime and destroying evidence. Shaw was additionally charged with unlawful use of marijuana. The three are being held without bail.
Bechtold is charged with suspicion of felony accessory, gross misdemeanor destroying or concealing evidence and conspiracy to commit a crime.
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.