Surveillance video backs up what Robert William Ellis Jr. told police happened in March 2017: He shot a man in the head.
Ellis, who is on trial for murder in Walker County Superior Court this week, told investigators about two hours after the incident that he killed Jeremy Little in the backyard of a home at 408 State Line Road. Rossville Police Detective Dave Scroggins later learned a neighbor's surveillance camera captured the shooting.
The video only needed to answer one question: Did Ellis act in self-defense, as he told Scroggins and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent?
Played for the jury Wednesday morning, the footage is grainy. But it shows Ellis in a bright green shirt, standing next to Little in the backyard. It shows Ellis wave his arm toward Little quickly. Little then drops. Ellis then places both his hands on his head. A couple of seconds later, he walks away.
During his interview with Scroggins and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Daniel Nicholson, Ellis said he was scared that Little was going to hurt him. He said Little had a knife, and that he almost attacked him. Ellis said he then swung the .45 pistol at Little's head. He said the gun went off accidentally.
"Did you see Little move?" Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Lynsay Chapman asked Scroggins on Wednesday morning, after the jury watched the video.
"Mr. Little remained absolutely motionless," Scroggins testified, "which is consistent with being held at gunpoint."
During a cross examination, defense attorney Kristin Patton tried to turn the question around.
"You don't ever see Mr. Little raise his hands in a defensive manner," she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Chapman and Patton made closing arguments to the jury. Patton has said her client acted in self defense when he killed Little. The prosecution has relied on testimony from witnesses who say Ellis was angry at Little, as well as the surveillance footage and a one-hour interview, which Ellis gave police the day of the shooting without a lawyer.
The problems began on March 7, 2017, in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree in Rossville, next to the Tennessee-Georgia state line. Little's girlfriend, Julie Woody, said she tried to greet her friend, Amanda Jenkins, who sat in Ellis' truck. When Woody approached, she and Jenkins testified, Ellis pulled out a gun and threatened Woody. (Ellis denied that incident happened and told the police he had never even seen Woody before.)
After the threat, Woody and Jenkins said they left together. When Little found out what happened, he allegedly confronted Ellis. Around 7:30 p.m. that day, Ellis called 911 and told a dispatcher that Little damaged his 1966 Mustang.
Around 8 a.m. the next day, according to surveillance footage, Ellis drove to the home on State Line road, threw an object through a window, smashed the windows of Little's truck and shot a bullet through the back door. He returned at 1:15 p.m. and shouted for Little to come outside. When he did, Ellis shot him.
Ellis faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime, two counts of criminal trespass and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The jury will begin deliberating in the case this morning.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-75706476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.