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Wednesday, January 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Spokane police investigating man’s death following rap battle, fistfight; victim was withdrawing rape plea

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 14, 2019

Robert Ellison, shown in this photo from Facebook, died Sunday night during a fight that followed a rap battle at a house party. (Facebook)
Robert Ellison, shown in this photo from Facebook, died Sunday night during a fight that followed a rap battle at a house party. (Facebook)

Spokane police were investigating the Sunday night death of a man who competed in a rap battle that spiraled into a fistfight at a house party.

Police believe Robert R. Ellison, 37, died after being punched and then hitting his head on the ground, according to court documents.

One of the residents of the home woke up to the other man involved in the fight knocking on her bedroom door about 2 a.m. to apologize for what happened with Ellison, according to court documents. Then the man left the residence in the 2300 block of East Boone Avenue.

Medical personnel declared Ellison dead at the scene after police officers reported his injuries. The other man involved in the fight has not been arrested, and it is unclear if he has been charged with a crime.

Ellison had been living in the Spokane area since August 2000 after serving time at a youth correctional camp, according to news archives. He was 13 years old when he was convicted of two counts of child rape involving two 8-year-old boys he lived with at a foster home in 1995.

Ellison was in the process of withdrawing his 1995 guilty plea because he did not undergo a child capacity evaluation, according to the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office. State law says children 8 to 12 years old are presumed to be incapable of committing a crime unless there is proof that they understand the act or neglect and that it is wrong.

About five years after pleading guilty to rape, in 2000, Ellison was convicted of felony communicating for immoral purposes after he kissed an 11-year-old girl and touched her buttocks, according to The Spokesman-Review archives and court documents. Without the prior rape conviction, Ellison could have only been charged with a gross misdemeanor.

A woman saying she was Ellison’s cousin said in a Facebook post that he had children of his own. She was unable to be reached for further comment.

“He didn’t deserve to die, he was such an awesome person,” she wrote on Facebook.

Ellison was not charged in relation to any violent crimes in Spokane County after 2000, according to court records. But he had at least two convictions for failing to register as a sex offender, according to a Spokane County database.

He was awaiting a January 2020 trial for charges of failing to register as a sex offender and escaping community custody, according to court records.

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