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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Jonathan Ellington

Man gets 8-18 years for road rage death

A North Idaho man who fatally ran over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.

 Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, had been serving a 25-year sentence when the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions last May because of problems with his first trial.

Under the sentence imposed Monday by Kootenai County Judge John Luster, Ellington will be eligible for parole after eight years and credited for time already spent in custody, according to the Associated Press.

A jury convicted Ellington Jan. 31 of second-degree murder for the death of Vonnette Larsen and two counts of aggravated battery for ramming her daughters’ vehicle.

The fatal encounter began when Ellington punched Larsen’s daughters’ car window and the women, and eventually their parents, gave chase at about 90 mph.

Vonnette Larsen's husband fired a .44 Magnum pistol at Ellington seconds before she was run over.

According to the Coeur d'Alene Press, Luster said “poor decisions” were made “across the board” by all the parties involved in the incident.

“I’ll never be able to make sense of the behaviors of that day,” Luster said.

He said the Larsens “clearly” share in the responsibility Vonnette Larsen’s death, even though they have denied so.

Man guilty in road rage murder re-trial

A jury today convicted a North Idaho man of second-degree murder for fatally running over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident with her husband and two daughters.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, has already served six years in prison for the Jan. 1, 2006, incident but was released last year after the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions because of problems with his first trial.

Judge John Luster today allowed him to stay out of jail until his new sentencing, which is scheduled for March 26.

Read the rest of my story here.

Deputy Prosecutor Luke Malek, who is running for the Idaho state Legislature, congratulated his office in a Facebook post: “8 months after a scathing, dicta-filled opinion, professionalism and justice prevail. Congratulations to Art Verharen and Barry McHugh for courage in the face of populist ridicule.”

Past coverage:

May 27: Idaho Supreme Court overturns Ellington murder conviction

Jury still out in road rage murder case

Jurors today continue to deliberate the fate of of a North Idaho man charged with murder for running over a woman during a road rage encounter with her husband and daughters six years ago.

 The jury of 12 Kootenai County residents asked 1st District Judge John Luster the difference between 'deliberate' and 'intentional' in a question submitted just before noon today.

 Luster provided them with an additional instruction defining intentional as 'if done on purpose' and 'deliberate' as 'done on reflection.'

“It's understandable that the jury is struggling with that distinction between those two terms,” Luster said.

The language could be crucial to the verdict as jurors decide whether to convict or acquire Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, (pictured) of second-degree murder for the Jan. 1, 2006, death of Vonnette Larsen.

Jurors also have alternative charges of manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.

Prosecutors Barry McHugh and Art Verharen told the judge they believe today's additional instruction places an unfair burden on them to prove premeditation, which is only required for first-degree murder.

Luster disagreed.

“I don't believe this instruction places any greater burden on the state,” he said.

Court officials ordered lunch for the jury, which is in it's third day of deliberations. They began Friday afternoon after closing arguments.

Prosecutors say Ellington chose to turn his Bronco into the wrong lane and accelerate toward Larsen instead of staying in his lane and driving away from the scene at Scarcello Road, north of Coeur d’Alene.

But Ellington’s lawyers say he was fleeing gunfire from Vonnette Larsen’s husband, Joel Larsen, when the Bronco ran her over.

It's Ellington's second trial. He was serving a 25-year sentence for seocnd-dgree murdre when the Idaho Supreme Court reversed his convction and ruled an Idaho State Police corporal lied on the witness stand.

Read more from closing arguments here.

2nd trial begins in ‘06 road rage death

Jonathan Wade Ellington and his girlfriend leave Kootenai County District Court during a break in the opening day of his trial Thursday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff) Ellington is pictured below in 2006.

Prosecutors say he used his vehicle as a weapon against two sisters and their mother in an angry road encounter fueled by his own rage.

But Jonathan Wade Ellington’s lawyers told jurors at the opening day of his murder trial Thursday that the North Idaho man was simply trying to get away from gunfire when he ran over and killed Vonnette Larsen on Jan. 1, 2006.

“It’s a tragedy, but it’s not a crime,” said John Adams, head of the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ruling clears way for 2nd road rage trial

A judge this morning refused to dismiss murder charges against a North Idaho man because of a last-minute evidence issue in his 2006 road-rage case, clearing the way for a second trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington (pictured) was imprisoned for four years  on a murder conviction that was overturned because the Idaho Supreme Court ruled a state trooper lied at the first trial in 2006.

Opening statements in his second trial are expected Thursday morning. A jury is being selected today in Judge John Luster's courtroom at the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.

Ellington has been free since early November on a $50,000 property-backed bond after returning to Kootenai County from a prison near Boise.

Ellington is accused of running over Vonnette Lee Larsen, 41, in 2006 during a fit of road rage north of Coeur d’Alene. Larsen and her husband were pursuing Ellington after their daughters told them he’d punched their windshield, and at one point before the fatal crash Joel Larsen fired a rifle at Ellington.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.

The case is being prosecuted by Barry McHugh and Art Verharen. Ellington is represented by John Adams and Ann Taylor.

I'll be covering the trial. Look for updates here and on my Twitter page throughout the opening day.

More past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Ellington road-rage trial set for Aug. 29

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A North Idaho man whose conviction of second-degree murder was overturned will stand trial again on the charge this month.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that 50-year-old Jonathan W. Ellington’s three-week jury trial is expected to start Aug. 29 in front of 1st District Judge John Luster.

Ellington, of Hayden, was convicted in August 2006 after prosecutors said he was involved in a road-rage incident that turned deadly when 41-year-old Vonette Lee Larsen was run over.

But earlier this year, a unanimous Idaho Supreme Court threw out his convictions and granted him a new trial. The high court cited prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury in its ruling.

Past coverage:

June 23: Ellington briefly leaves jail while awaiting new trial

Dec. 5, 2006: Ellington sentenced to 25 years in prison

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Idaho road rage suspect freed for 6 days

A man who was released from prison last week after his second-degree murder conviction was overturned turned himself in Wednesday to the Kootenai County Jail to await a new trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 50, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman in what prosecutors called a road-rage incident Jan. 1, 2006.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously May 27 that Ellington, of Hayden, should get a new trial. Ellington's attorney, Anne Taylor, said she will seek a reduction of her client's $1 million bond

. Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, however, said he will request that the bond remain where it was set.

A status hearing has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Monday in 1st District Judge John Luster's courtroom.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Trooper on leave amid perjury allegation

A veteran state trooper accused of perjury in an Idaho Supreme Court decision that vacated a murder conviction has been placed on paid leave.

Cpl. Fred Rice is accused of  lying on the stand during the road rage trial of Jonathan Wade Ellington of Athol, who was convicted of second-degree murder for running over a woman on New Years Day 2006. Ellington is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Read the full statement from Idaho State Police at the Eye on Boise blog.

Murder conviction tossed in ‘06 road rage

BOISE – State Supreme Court justices have thrown out the second-degree murder conviction of a North Idaho man, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury during the 2006 trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, of Hayden, was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman during what was described as a road-rage encounter on New Year’s Day 2006.

But Friday, Idaho’s high court unanimously ruled Ellington should get a new trial. In the 32-page ruling, the justices wrote the Kootenai County prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, in part by engaging in improper questioning meant to turn the jury against Ellington.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.

Other past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

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