US

Murder conviction overturned due to use of racist stereotype during jury selection

Black man’s murder conviction in shooting of white ex-girlfriend is overturned by appeals court because prosecutor ‘invoked racial stereotypes and appealed to the prejudice of the jury’ by referencing O.J. Simpson case

  • Joshua Kioni Ellis had his second-degree murder conviction overturned on August 31 after successfully arguing that he was deprived of a fair trial 
  • Ellis pointed to the prosecutions references to The People v. O.J. Simpson and an implicit bias exercise during jury selection
  • Judge Bernard Veljacic wrote that the prosecution ‘invoked racial stereotypes and appealed to the prejudice of the jury’ resulting in misconduct 
  • The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is deciding whether to ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision 
  • Ellis was convicted on second-degree murder and sentenced to over 23 years for fatally shooting of his ex-girlfriend, Wendi Traynor, in 2017  


A man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 2017 had the verdict overturned after an appeals court ruled that the prosecution’s reference to the O.J. Simpson case deprived him of a fair trial by suggesting racial stereotypes to the jury. 

Joshua Kioni Ellis was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to over 23 years in prison for the gunning down 25-year-old Wendi Traynor. 

On appeal, Ellis argued that deputy prosecutor John Neeb’s reference to The People v. O.J. Simpson and an implicit bias exercise during jury selection barred him from his right to a fair trial. 

The three-judge panel of Division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals agreed with Ellis. 

Joshua Kioni Ellis had his second-degree murder conviction overturned on August 31 after he successfully argued that prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair trial

‘Ellis argues that the prosecutor committed misconduct during voir dire because he invoked racial stereotypes and appealed to the prejudice of the jury,’ Judge Bernard Veljacic wrote for the panel on August 31. 

‘Because the prosecutor committed misconduct that deprived Ellis of a fair trial, we reverse his convictions.’ 

A spokesperson for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office said that the office is deciding whether to ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision to overturn the murder conviction. 

Ellis was arrested in September 2017 after his ex-girlfriend was found dead in her new apartment in Milton, Washington.  

The couple had been together for two years and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in June 2017. Traynor had reportedly tried to break up with Ellis twice after their move before making it official in October when she returned to Washington, according to investigators.  

Ellis (left) was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to over 23 years in prison for the 2017 fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend Wendi Traynor (right) in Milton, Washington

Ellis (left) was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to over 23 years in prison for the 2017 fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend Wendi Traynor (right) in Milton, Washington 

Ellis (left) argued that the acted in lawful self-defense when Traynor (right) pulled out a gun when he was leaving her new apartment which she had moved into after leaving him

Ellis (left) argued that the acted in lawful self-defense when Traynor (right) pulled out a gun when he was leaving her new apartment which she had moved into after leaving him 

Traynor was killed with a shot to the head and left dead in her apartment until her family discovered her body about a week later after being concerned that they hadn't heard from her

Traynor was killed with a shot to the head and left dead in her apartment until her family discovered her body about a week later after being concerned that they hadn’t heard from her

The domestic dispute turned deadly about a month after Traynor’s move when Ellis tracked his ex-girlfriend down. The last time anyone heard from Traynor was when she texted her friends that she was going to meet up with her ex in person to discuss their relationship on November 3, according to investigators. 

Ellis argued that he shot Traynor in lawful self-defense after she pulled out a gun as he was trying to leave her apartment. 

She was killed with a gunshot to the head.  

Her body was found by her aunt and uncle a week later when the family grew concerned that they hadn’t heard from her in several days. Ellis eventually turned himself in to Milton police. 

One of Traynor’s friends told detectives that Ellis had been physically violent with Traynor in the past and had threatened to harm her family if she left him, according to court records. 

The jury convicted Ellis of second-degree murder on May 23, 2019, after about a day and a half of deliberations.   

Advertisement


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button