Jury finds Ellis guilty of property theft

Published 11:00 pm Monday, August 13, 2012

Written by Whitley Kilcrease

Accused Hunter’s Mountain rapist Andre Lamon Ellis was found guilty Monday on an unrelated charge of first-degree theft of property.

Ellis was arrested in March 2011 after receiving a loan worth $12,750 from First National Bank of Brundidge for a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette he never purchased from Troy Automotive Group, LLC.

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Evidence presented by the prosecution suggested that Ellis forged documents at Troy Automotive Group, where he was employed, in order to get the loan from First National Bank in August 2009. The prosecution claimed Ellis acted without any intention of buying the car or repaying the loan.

Ellis later sold the car to a separate party in December 2009, leading the prosecution to conclude he never had any intention of buying the car, but only sought to acquire the money from the bank.

District attorney Tom Anderson referred to the false paperwork as “sleight of hand” and “smoke and mirrors” that Ellis used.

The defense negated the prosecutions claims by arguing that Ellis didn’t “act with intent to deceive” and could have planned to pay for the car at a later date. Defense attorney J. Carlton Taylor said Ellis made the loan repayments from October 2009 to March 2010, which is an indication of his intention to repay the loan.

“There is no intent to deprive the bank of their $12,750,” Taylor said during closing arguments. “There is no evidence he wasn’t ever going to buy the car.”

However, a jury unanimously reached a guilty verdict by 5:00 p.m. Monday.

Chris Avant, the owner of Troy Automotive Group, testified against Ellis along with Jerry Miller, loan officer with First National Bank of Brundidge, and Brian Mclendon, a detective with the Troy Police Department who investigated the case.

Evidence also included copies of the forged documents, such as a cancelled title application, a buyer’s order and bill of sale, as well as a voice recording of the questioning with Mclendon following Ellis’ March 2011 arrest.

Ellis’ sentencing date was not available at deadline. According to Alabama law, theft of property first-degree is a Class B felony and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.