Witness: Murder suspect wanted to go to jail for free bed and meals

COQUILLE, Ore.-- Prosecutors spent most of the day on Tuesday laying out how Ronald Ambill and David Barker met up the day before Barker was found dead in a North Bend motel room last July.

Witnesses who knew Barker testified about his every habit, right down to the pack of cigarettes he liked to smoke.

Three witnesses testified that Barker found a loophole in his living situation at Bay Area First Step, an alcohol and drug treatment facility in Coos Bay. Because of the loophole in the clinic's policies, Barker was able to cash in his $100 a week Social Security check for a motel room and alcohol nearly every Monday and return to the program the next day.

Witnesses, including Barker's own son, testified that he was also chain smoker, which would play a role in determining when Barker's death occurred in the Itty Bitty Inn motel room he was found dead in.

After hearing about Barker's life, jurors then began to learn about Ambill.

Witnesses who took the stand say Ambill hitchhiked from California to Coos Bay looking for work.

One witness told the court that after being turned down for a couple of jobs in the Bay Area at retail stores and fast food restaurants, Ambill, "changed."

The man told jurors Ambill told him he saw prison as the only place where he could get a warm bed and a hot meal every day and night at no charge. He testified that Ambill was going to do "something" so he could get those things.

"He had mentioned that he was tired of the living situation, and he was tired of getting the run around, and he was going to do whatever he had to do to get a better situation," the witness said. "If he was going to be living the way he was living, he might as well do it."

After questioning more people who Ambill met when he moved to Coos Bay, prosecutors called first responders and the managers of the Itty Bitty Inn, who were all questioned about the night it is believed Barker was killed.

The husband and wife managers of the Itty Bitty Inn said they always saw Barker outside of his room chain smoking at all hours of the day, whenever he visited.

The couple in charge was concerned for Barker's safety after they saw him with a strange man they did not recognize, and once that man left, Barker was never seen outside smoking again.

Eventually, the manager testified that he was worried when Barker did not checkout at his usual checkout time, he unlocked the door to check up on his customer and found Barker dead in a pool of blood at the foot of the room's bed.

All witnesses reported seeing a man in an orange striped shirt, khakis pants and dark jacket. He was also carrying a backpack. Witnesses that knew Ambill said they remember him taking and wearing those clothes, which were provided to him by the South Coast Gospel Mission in Coos Bay where he was staying.

Testimony then shifted in the afternoon to Barker in his wheelchair being pushed into Ashworth's Market in North Bend where Barker and a man in an orange striped shirt, khakis pants and a dark jacket were seen purchasing alcohol together just a few hours before Barker was believed to have been killed.

The man in the surveillance camera video was identified by police last summer as being Ambill.

Prosecutors will now comb through the evidence collected before handing the case over to the defense.

Jury deliberations are expected to begin around Thursday.