ANDERSON COUNTY — Christopher Ellis was convicted today of stabbing his girlfriend to death and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
It took a jury of six men and six women a little over an hour to find Ellis guilty of the deaths of Erica Olson, who was stabbed more than 25 times, and of her unborn child. He was also convicted of possessing a weapon in the commission of a violent crime.
Circuit Court Judge Cordell Maddox sentenced Ellis to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole on the two death charges and 10 years to run consecutively for the weapons charge.
“I think the fact that he will never be able to do this to anyone else is what we all needed,” said Gayle Davison, Olson’s grandmother. “It will be three long years on the 23rd of this month. We’ve waited a long time for this.”
On Oct. 23, 2006, police went to an apartment in Fairview Gardens after dispatchers received a 911 hang-up call and heard a woman screaming in the background. Police found Olson with stab wounds covering her upper body. Ellis was lying on top of her, with wounds to his abdomen and neck. Olson’s 7-year-old daughter told police that Ellis had stabbed her mother and then stabbed himself.
Ellis, the only witness to testify on Wednesday and the only witness the defense called, said Olson had attacked him as he fell asleep in a recliner. According to him, he had been at another woman’s house that afternoon and Olson was angry that he had been cheating on her.
Ellis admitted being drunk and high on crack cocaine at the time.
Olson came after him with a knife while he sat falling asleep in a recliner, he said. When he ran to the bathroom, he said, she followed him, stabbing him again.
Ellis said he got the knife away from her and stabbed her when she continued to come after him.
He also testified that it was he who called 911, but that the phone kept falling out of the wall.
In closing arguments, Assistant Circuit Solicitor Catherine Huey played the 911 tapes again for the jury. She said Ellis wasn’t calling the police; he was trying to figure out how to control the situation as Olson lay dying on the floor.
“He told dispatchers ‘It’s OK.’ In all that time he never even asked for help. Both he and Erica are hurt and he never asks for help,” she said. “They want you to believe the phone kept falling out of the wall. But the dispatcher knew something bad was going on. He heard the screaming and he kept calling back. … But by that time, you can’t hear Erica anymore.”
Huey said Olson had been planning to move out of the apartment, but waited too long.
In a statement, 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams said the crime should also serve as a warning to other women in abusive situations.
“This was a horrific crime, committed in front of a 7-year-old child by someone with a previous history of domestic abuse against the victim, a fact I hope will not be lost on those in our community who today find themselves in abusive relationships. We are grateful to the jury and pleased that this defendant will be locked away for the rest of his life,” she said.
Ellis was taken to the Anderson County Detention Center, where he is serving time for a probation violation.
Circuit Public Defender Robert Gamble said he would appeal.
Click to view image: 'Ellis'
|Liveleak on Facebook|