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Hayden man awaits second trial in jail

Thu., June 23, 2011

Murder conviction in road-rage case overturned

A man whose second-degree murder conviction was overturned in May by the Idaho Supreme Court turned himself in Wednesday to the Kootenai County Jail, while he awaits 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. The ruling cited the likelihood that Idaho State Police Cpl. Fred Rice, a witness for the prosecution, committed perjury. The ruling also said that Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen engaged in misconduct during the trial, in part due to improper questioning meant to turn the jury against Ellington.

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

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.

Taylor said Ellington’s conviction and sentence were vacated Friday, and he was released from prison. Ellington called Taylor on Monday morning to ask how to proceed. First District Judge John Mitchell signed an order stating Ellington should report to jail, Taylor said.

Vonette Lee Larsen, 41, died when Ellington hit her with his Chevrolet Blazer on New Year’s Day in 2006. The incident occurred following a car chase between Ellington and Larsen’s two daughters, who called both 911 and their parents.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Ellington purposely rammed a car driven by Larsen’s daughters because he was angry at them for pursuing him, and then ran over Vonette Larsen. Defense attorneys, however, said when Ellington hit Vonette Larsen, he was fleeing for his life after the pursuit and after being shot at by her husband, Joel Larsen.

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