Court seeks petitions in Ellis case

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Supreme Court is one step closer to reviewing the overturned rape conviction of a Pike County man.

The Pike County District Attorney’s Office has asked the Court to rule on Circuit Court Judge Jeff Kelley’s decision to overturn the rape conviction of Andre Lamar Ellis. Assistant District Attorney Chris Kaminski presented a 30-page petition asking the Supreme Court to uphold the conviction.

The petition, filed one year ago, challenged Circuit Court Judge Jeff Kelley’s jurisdiction and several of the issues he raised in May 2013 before overturning Ellis’ conviction.

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Ellis’ attorney and Kelley had two weeks to make their case for the overturned conviction. Kelley told the Court he did not want to be a party that appears in the proceeding. Ellis offered a 30-page response to Kaminski’s argument.

The law now allows Kaminski to respond to Ellis’ argument. He said he would file the response this week.

“We were asked to address certain issues (specifically) our jurisdiction and whether or not we filed in a timely manner,” said Kaminski. “I’ve been going through and basically just analyzing the argument.”

His response is limited to 15 pages, but he hoped to address those issues and present more of the prosecution’s arguments.

“We think that Judge Kelley has exceeded what he is allowed to do,” he said.

Ellis was convicted in January 2013 of two counts of rape and one count of second-degree burglary and sentenced to concurrent terms of 85 years for each rape and 20 years for the burglary charge.

Both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition based on timeliness issues, saying the District Attorney’s Office failed to file the appeal of Kelley’s ruling within a seven-day window mandated by law. Their motion was filed in June 2013.

“We said ‘no, we disagree with you. You need to look at the case we are citing.’ We prosecuted this to the culmination of the case. The state only has rules of procedure if it applies to an appeal for pretrial matters,” explained District Attorney Tom Anderson in April, when he first learned the Supreme Court would hear the case. “This is the first time anyone will actually look at our motion.”

In overturning Ellis’ conviction and ordering a new trial, Kelley cited “inconsistency” in one victim’s testimony and “reasonable probability” that the results of the first trial would have been different if the state had disclosed other evidence.

The new trial will not be heard until the court’s rehearing of the motion is completed.

Once the District Attorney’s Office submits its response this week, the Court can either base its decision on the written arguments or request both sides to appear before them. Kaminski said an appearance would be unusual. “Neither of the parties has requested oral arguments before the court.”

Ellis is currently serving time for theft of property in the first degree.