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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Shooter in failed carjacking gets more than 13 years

Joseph Ellery (Meghann M. Cuniff / The Spokesman-Review)
Unable to complete sentences between tears, 56-year-old Donald Young explained how being shot in a botched carjacking last year “messed up” his life. The man responsible, Joseph P. Ellery, 31, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree assault in exchange for prosecutors dropping other charges, including first-degree robbery and drive-by shooting during the bloody carjacking that occurred Dec. 18. He was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison. “I get shot from some drug-induced … Why me? He screwed up my life,” Young told Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen. “I wanted to see what the guy looked like. I’ve never seen him before in my life.” Ellery wrote in his plea: “I tried to take a guy’s car and in the process I assaulted him with a weapon.” But his attorney, John Nollette, said his client has no recollection of jumping out of a truck driven by convicted felon Richard P. Hoffman and trying to steal Young’s Mitsubishi 3GT coupe at the intersection of Division Street and Buckeye Avenue. After shooting Young, Ellery was unable to drive off in the car. He fled on foot and was apprehended after police found him hiding in a doghouse in the backyard of a house in the 2500 block of North Normandie Street. The incident snarled traffic in the area, and briefly caused a nearby school to be locked down. Given a chance to make a statement, Ellery looked at Young and said: “I’d like to say I’m sorry for what I did.” But Eitzen noted that the plea agreement, in which attorneys agreed to recommend 129 months in prison, did not include a weapon enhancement. She questioned why prosecutors didn’t charge Ellery with a felon in the possession of a firearm. “I don’t understand it. I can’t go along with 129 months. If I could impose twice that, I would,” Eitzen said. “I have to think about the rest of the people in this community. I’m sorry I don’t have more to work with.” Eitzen then sentenced Ellery to the maximum 160 months, or more than 13 years. Ben Colbert, who said he was Young’s best friend, explained how Young died at the scene but paramedics were able to revive him. His heart again stopped at the hospital before he was revived for a second time. “To me, (Ellery is) the lowest form of scum,” Colbert said. “I hope he learns … that it doesn’t take a gun to complete his anatomy as a man. I hope he has a horrible time in prison.”