Guilty on all countsPublished 6:37pm Friday, January 18, 2013
Prosecution to seek life without parole for Andre Ellis
The trial for Andre Ellis is over after three days of emotional testimony, followed by closing arguments on Friday.
The jury only deliberated about two and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict on all charges – rape first-degree, rape first-degree and burglary second-degree.
There was silence as Judge Jeffery Kelley read the verdict. Tears broke out from the victims’ families as soon as the first “guilty” was announced.
District Attorney Tom Anderson called the rape of the two women in Hunter’s Mountain Mobile Home Park on March 26, 2012 “brutal” and he thanked the two young women, 19 and 20, for coming forward and facing Ellis during the trial.
“We, in the criminal justice system, need the victims of sexual assaults to report these crimes and testify so we may make every effort to restore them to their dignity and deter future crimes,” Anderson said in a statement.
Assistant District Attorney Scherryl Harrison said she felt good about the chances for a guilty verdict, but attorneys can never be certain what a jury is thinking. After the verdict was returned, she said she was “elated.”
One criticism by defense attorney J. Taylor was that there was no physical evidence linking Ellis to the crimes. Harrison said the lack of DNA evidence in this case wasn’t unusual for a sexual assault.
“Very seldom do you have DNA. Very seldom do you have injuries,” Harrison shared after the verdict came back. “People see all this stuff on TV, but in the real world you have cases where you don’t have DNA.”
Assistant District Attorney Chris Kaminski said the end of the trial and the guilty verdict will bring some closure to the two victims.
“This will give them an opportunity now to sort of put this behind them, put it to rest and try to move on with their lives again and try to live a normal life,” Kaminski said. “They don’t have to think about it every day. They don’t have to worry about what is going to happen when they come to court.”
Taylor requested a pre-sentencing report. Harrison said she expected there to be a sentencing hearing set by Judge Kelley in about 30 days.
Harrison also said the DA’s Office will be asking for Ellis’ sentence to be life without parole for both rapes and life in prison for the burglary charge.
Ellis had nothing to say to media as Pike County deputies escorted him back to the Pike County Jail Friday afternoon.