Sheriff refuses to allow accused rapist out of jail


Seven days after a judge lowered his bonds, accused rapist Andre Ellis was still in jail by decision of Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas.

“I took an oath to protect this county,” Thomas said. “This is not the kind of bond that I am just going to approve and let him walk out the door.”

Ellis is being held on seven bonds – two for rape charges, one for a burglary charge, one regarding a theft of property charge and three instances of worthless check charges – totaling $362,250. The bonding company he is using, Thomas said, would have at least 104 bonds totaling in excess of $1.2 million in Pike County alone, if he approved Ellis’ release.

“I am not satisfied with that,” Thomas said. “I don’t feel that is a good surety.”

Ellis is accused of raping two women on the same day in Hunter’s Mountain Mobile Estates off U.S. Highway 231 in Troy. The rapes happened on March 26 and he was charged almost a month later on April 25.

“This is one of the more frightening cases here in Troy and Pike County that I have seen as far as people being fearful and scared,” Thomas said, adding that gun permit sales rose by several hundred percent after the rapes. “What happened to these young ladies, they are going to have to live with for the rest of their life.”

Thomas said Ellis “has no ties to the community, no family in the community and no job in the community.” Ellis is self-employed, Thomas said, at a building he only recently rented to use as a car wash. The sheriff believes that isn’t enough to keep him in Pike County and said the accused man is a flight risk.

“I have explained to his lawyer that there are ways that he can force me,” Thomas said. “There are ways that they can get it before the judge and have the court decide.

And that’s what Ellis’ attorney plans to do.

As early as Wednesday morning, J. Carlton Taylor will file a writ of Habeas corpus, a legal action that requires a person under arrest be brought before a judge.

“My client is not a flight risk and he’s ready to go to court,” Taylor said on Tuesday. “He’s not a danger to the community. If he was, the judge (William Hightower) wouldn’t have reduced his bond.”


Taylor said he’d be working on the paperwork for the writ Tuesday night.

Cornelius Collins, with the Alternative Justice bail bond company used by Ellis, said he can write up to $1 million single bonds and he is “not concerned because I know I can.”

He said he’s never had a client denied before due to a surety issue.

“I’ve seen a lot of bonding companies come and go,” Thomas said. “I just can’t approve it under these conditions.”

Thomas said his stance is one he is sure of.

“The star, the badge, is a symbol of honor and in history it stands for something,” Thomas said. “It should stand for right and wrong and justice, and so should a sheriff.”