The Alabama Supreme Court denied the appeal of the Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson, for the second time, in the Andre Ellis case.  Ellis is accused of two rapes and one burglary in a mobile home community in Troy, Alabama.  The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the lower court’s order to grant Ellis a new trial.

In 2013, even though there was no forensic or physical evidence linking Ellis to the crimes, Ellis was convicted and sentenced to 105 years.  He filed a new trial motion citing Brady violations by the prosecution and Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley was shocked at what he discovered.  In a detailed opinion, overturning Ellis’ conviction, he found that prosecutors had failed to disclose a litany of very important pieces of information, including:

  • A police affidavit that showed one of the victims IDed a different man before changing her mind to Ellis.
  • A statement by that same victim that she never looked at her assailant despite her trial testimony that she “would [never] forget the eyes of [her] rapist.”
  • Cell phone records from that same woman that suggest the rape occurred as Ellis was caught on security camera somewhere else in the mobile home community.
  • Statements by that woman’s boyfriend that completely contradict her suppressed statements.

Judge Kelley had ordered the D.A.’s Office to turn over all witness statements and evidence in both cases before he overturned the conviction.

Judge Kelley wrote in his opinion that, “this court continues to have much concern regarding the State’s search for the truth as the evidence disclosed…makes reference to other interviews and statements…which have never been provided…to the court…”

This means that even as the prosecution argued before the court that Ellis’ conviction should not be overturned, they disobeyed a court order to disclose all evidence.  Remarkably, Judge Kelley found that the “suppression or non-disclosure was not intentional or malicious…”

In his unsuccessful petition to the supreme court, Anderson claimed that it might seem under the circumstances that the trial court had “exceeded its discretion and…authority…because…the trial court improperly combed the prosecutor’s files and incorrectly and improperly analyzed the contents…”

The Alabama Supreme Court unequivocally disagreed, it found no errors in what Judge Kelley did to correct Anderson’s Brady violations:

“[Alabama law] expressly authorizes a trial court to impose sanctions against a party that fails to comply with a discovery order…Because the State violated the trial court’s discovery order by failing to produce any and all interviews and statements regarding Q.C., we find no error in the trial court’s ruling granting Ellis’s motion for a new trial [on all counts]…It is well settled that the ‘failure to comply with [such an order] is viewed with disfavor and is condemned.”

After two losses before the Supreme Court of his office’s own causing, Anderson told the Troy Messenger, “It is what it is.  We’re disappointed and we respectfully disagree…but we know where we stand and we’ll muscle forward providing the victims are willing.”

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