August 25, 2006 in Idaho

Daughter describes mother’s death

Sam Taylor Staff writer
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Joleen Larsen, 18, holds a photo showing her sister’s Honda, a car she was riding in, by a ditch after it was allegedly rammed by an SUV driven by Jonathan Ellington during a confrontation in which he allegedly ran over and killed Larsen’s mother, Vonette.
(Full-size photo)

Ellington ‘road rage’ trial

What happened: Joleen Larsen, 18, testified she saw her mother run over by Jonathan Wade Ellington on New Year’s Day, and that he never stopped accelerating over her in his Chevy Blazer.

Why it matters: Prosecutors contend that Ellington killed 41-year-old Vonette Larsen “simply because he was angry” and are trying to prove he purposely tried to kill her.

What’s next: Joleen Larsen is set to continue testifying today, and prosecutors have a Kootenai County sheriff’s deputy and father Joel Larsen next on witness lists.

Joleen Larsen, the 18-year-old daughter of alleged road rage murder victim Vonette Larsen, wept on the stand Thursday as she recounted seeing her mother run over by a Hayden man’s Chevy Blazer on New Year’s Day.

911 tapes, played for the first time in public, recounted about 12 minutes of the confrontation between the Larsens and Jonathan Wade Ellington, who is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery for the death of Vonette Larsen and for ramming sisters Joleen and Jovon’s white Honda Accord with his vehicle.

Ellington had no reaction and did not look at Joleen Larsen as she cried on the stand, listening to the two phone calls she had made to Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers.

“He just killed my mom!” Joleen Larsen is heard screaming on the tape. “He … ran her over. Oh my God, my mom.”

She also stood during testimony to demonstrate how she saw her mother pressed up against the front of the Blazer, hands on the hood and grill, and tried to back away as it moved toward her, then ran over her. The Blazer never slowed down and continued to accelerate over her mother, Larsen said.

She said Ellington’s large, mid-1970s Blazer had no license plates on the back or front, so she and her sister, who was driving, continued to chase after it to provide more information to sheriff’s deputies.

The incident involving the mother occurred after what defense lawyers called a “cat-and-mouse” game between the sisters and Ellington, who passed them on Ramsey Road in Athol.

On the 911 tape, Joleen Larsen told a dispatcher that Ellington stopped his Blazer in front of their car at the intersection of Brunner and Ramsey Roads and “started freaking out and then he punched the window” on the driver’s side door.

“It almost broke,” she said on the tape, later asking if officers were going to arrive while they chased Ellington. “Something definitely needs to be done here.”

Larsen is heard saying she believed Ellington was going in excess of 100 mph. She said she and her sister were traveling 90 mph and he was pulling away from them.

“I don’t want you guys to get hurt or anything,” a dispatcher said to Larsen, later telling her, “I don’t want you to break any rules.”

It is after this, on Scarcello Road, in which Larsen told dispatchers that Ellington turned around and came toward them. Next, only screams can be heard.

“He just … hit us,” Larsen said as the incident continued.

The rest is inaudible except for more screams and the dispatcher pleading with Joleen Larsen on the phone to try to tell her what’s happening. The next words that can be understood are Larsen explaining that her mother had been run over.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Joleen Larsen said as she ran to her mother, who was unconscious and bleeding on the ground.

Deputy Public Defender Anne Taylor questioned the amount of sleep the Larsen sisters had the night before, because they had been drinking past midnight on New Year’s Eve. Taylor also asked Joleen Larsen if she and her sister had provoked Ellington when he initially passed them on the road.

“What did you do to start this?” Taylor said.

Larsen said she and her sister were merely driving home.

Earlier in the day, defense attorneys again asked for a mistrial after Kootenai County sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell referenced the fact that Ellington was being represented by a team of attorneys from the Kootenai County public defender’s office. It was the third such mistrial motion since the beginning of the trial.

Judge John Luster denied the latest motion, but public defender Brad Chapman said Ellington’s civil rights had been violated because the jurors should not know who he was being represented by.

Luster said he was “perplexed” that the lawyers were claiming Ellington couldn’t get a fair trial because they had identified themselves in some trials as public defenders.

“In my humble opinion … an attorney who embarks in a career at the public defender’s office is honorable,” Luster said.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email