Supreme Court reverses Burrell Ellis conviction

[private]The Georgia Supreme Court has unanimously reversed the fraud and perjury convictions of former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis — criminal charges for which Ellis has already served his sentence and been released.

In a decision released Wednesday afternoon, the court said it was reversing the conviction because of “evidentiary errors” in Ellis’ trial. It will be up to the DeKalb County district attorney whether to try Ellis again.

“We find that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Ellis guilty of the two charges upon which he was ultimately convicted – one count of perjury and one count of attempt to commit theft by extortion – beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the decision written by Justice Harold Melton.

But several errors committed by the trial judge mean that Ellis would be entitled to a new trial, the court ruled.

Robert James, the district attorney who prosecuted Ellis, was defeated when he ran for reelection this year and will soon leave office. The decision to retry would rest with the new district attorney, Sherry Boston.

Ellis was accused of trying to shake down country contractors for political contributions when he was running for reelection in 2012.

His first trial ended in a mistrial, but in a 2015 trial Ellis was convicted of one count of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and three counts of perjury. He was sentenced to five years, with 18 months to be served behind bars, and was released from prison March 1, 2016.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Burrell Ellis , criminal convictions , Georgia Supreme Court