A man charged in a Dawson Springs Road attempted murder case appeared in Christian Circuit Judge John Atkins’ court Thursday for sentencing after he did not appear for his originally scheduled sentencing on Monday, failing to show proof that he had been testing for COVID-19.
Brian Ellis, 44, entered Alford pleas to two cases, including the attempted murder case, was granted release prior to final sentencing that was scheduled for Monday morning.
On Monday, he failed to appear in court and according to his defense attorney Rick Sanborn, had not been heard from that morning.
During the hearing, Atkins chose to revoke Ellis’ bond and issued a warrant for his arrest, which carried an increased bond of $100,000 in full cash.
However, according to Ellis and Sanborn, Ellis had arrived at the Justice Center after the hearing had concluded on Monday.
Thursday at his newly scheduled sentencing hearing, Ellis claimed that he had arrived at the Christian County Justice Center roughly 15-20 minutes late for his sentencing.
“I was late for court the other day because the train held me up,” Ellis said to the judge. “That was the reason I got held up right there by Whistle Stop, by the train.”
Sanborn explained that moving forward in the case, Ellis wanted to make a motion to withdraw his pleas and obtain a new attorney.
“His intention is to request to withdraw his Alford plea on the cases and in doing so, we would request if we could set an evidentiary hearing,” Sanborn said to Atkins.
“We’ll get him appointed new counsel so that he can work with his new counsel and present the totality and circumstances of his argument. I believe those are his intentions.”
Atkins then explained to Ellis that if that is his intent, Sanborn would no longer be able to represent him and the local Department of Public Advocacy would have to appoint him a new lawyer.
“Mr. Sanborn is unable to represent you in connection with anything to do with that (motion) since he represented you to obtain the plea agreement,” Atkins said.
Ellis explained at that time, he intended to hire private attorney Stephanie Ritchie-Mize, but was not able to afford her retainer without continuing to work.
“I’ve been working the entire time I was out, Stephanie Ritchie(-Mize) told me I had to have at least $5,000 for a retainer, I have $4,200 of it and I was short $800,” Ellis said to Atkins. “I get paid this Friday and next Friday, I would have enough to retain Ms. (Mize) … I do have an attorney in mind, I just need to be able to continue to work to be able to pay for the attorney.”
Ellis also stated that if he were able to receive the bond money he and his family had posted, he would be able to use that money to afford Mize.
Following Ellis’ explanation, Atkins told Sanborn to contact Mize and explain his situation to her.
“If she’s got to make some kind of a motion to get access to the bond money or whatever it’s going to take to get her involved in the case, that’s what needs to happen,” Atkins said.
Atkins then continued the case to the first week of February to allow time to get Mize on the case and begin working with Ellis and the commonwealth.
Ellis requested Atkins to allow his release to continue to work, but Atkins ultimately denied the request.
Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling, who is prosecuting the case, appeared via Zoom and requested that the court address Ellis’ COVID claims.
Ellis explained to the court that he had presented the COVID paperwork to the jail when he arrived at the Christian County Jail Monday, which he said showed that he had tested negative for COVID.
“You make sure your lawyer has that (paperwork) when she comes to court,” Atkins said to Ellis. “She can make any motions that she needs to make between now and then.”
Ellis is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Feb. 3.
According to New Era archives, Ellis recently entered a plea deal in two cases, including an attempted murder case, and was granted release prior to final sentencing that was scheduled for Monday morning.
Ellis was previously charged in two 2020 cases, the first case carried two counts of attempted murder, six counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree trafficking in methamphetamine, tampering with physical evidence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
Ellis’ second case carried one count of first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, first-degree fleeing or evading police (motor vehicle) and disregarding or failing to yield right of way.
On Nov. 16, in his attempted murder case, Ellis entered an Alford plea to first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree trafficking in meth, tampering with physical evidence, possession of drug parapheranlia and possession of marijuana.
His attempted murder charges were dropped by the commonwealth, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jerad Smith explained at the November court meeting.
By accepting an Alford plea, Ellis did not admit guilt, but does acknowledge that if the case were to go to trial, there may be enough evidence for the jury to find him guilty. An Alford plea, while not admitting guilt, is treated as a guilty plea in court.
Smith continued to state that the offer carries a recommended total sentence of 10 years in prison.
In the other case, Ellis also entered an Alford plea to first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree fleeing or evading police, which carried a total recommended sentence of five years in prison.
Smith explained that both of his cases were to run consecutively, meaning one after the other, for a recommended combined total of 15 years in prison.
For both cases, the commonwealth opposed probation, Smith added.
Following the entering of his pleas, Atkins allowed Ellis to be released from jail pending his final sentencing with strict conditions so that he may spend the holidays with his family.
Also according to archives, deputies were called to the area of Dawson Springs Road in reference to shots fired after residents reported that someone had fired a weapon at their house.
While deputies were at Dawson Springs Road, additional shots were allegedly fired at a home around the 10000 block of Hart Road.
After investigating, deputies located Ellis at a home on Wallace Avenue. Investigators were reportedly able to determine that Ellis was involved in both shooting incidents, according to archives.
No other information regarding the incidents was provided in Christian County Sheriff’s Office reports.