Ellington sentenced in road-rage case - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Ellington sentenced in road-rage case

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Posted: Monday, March 26, 2012 5:31 pm | Updated: 7:14 am, Tue Mar 27, 2012.

COEUR d’ALENE — Jonathan W. Ellington might be spending only two more years in prison.

Ellington, convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery by a Kootenai County jury earlier this year, has already served six years behind bars.

He was sentenced on Monday in 1st District Court by Judge John Luster to 18 years in prison, but only eight years of that time is mandatory. He was given credit for the time he’s already spent behind bars.

“You engaged in conduct that cost a human life,” Luster said.

Ellington, 51, was sentenced to a fixed term of six years on the battery charges, but that sentence will be served at the same time as his time for murder.

A jury in January found he deliberately ran over and killed 41-year-old Vonette Larsen with his Chevrolet Blazer and rammed a car occupied by two of her daughters on New Year’s Day 2006.

Evidence at his trial showed he got tangled up in a road-rage incident with Larsen’s daughters, Joleen and Jovon.

Vonette and her husband, Joel, helped the sisters chase Ellington, eventually cornering him on Scarcello Road, less than a mile east of Twin Lakes Village and Highway 41.

Ellington rammed the car driven by the sisters, then ran over Vonette Larsen, who had exited another car and was on foot.

Luster said “poor decisions” were made “across the board” by all the parties involved in the incident.

“I’ll never be able to make sense of the behaviors of that day,” Luster said.

He said the Larsens have denied responsibility for Vonette Larsen’s death. He said they “clearly” share in the responsibility.

Luster said people who encounter an angry motorist are “best suited to avoid that angry motorist, and that if Ellington had wrecked his Blazer fleeing from the Larsens and died, the tables would have been turned.

But, he said, he was not there to judge them, but only Ellington.

He described Ellington as a “disaster waiting to happen,” a man with a history of assault and substance abuse problems.

Ellington didn't speak during the sentencing hearing, instead submitting a written statement to the judge.

Ellington, who has been out on bond and living in Utah with family, was handcuffed and taken into custody by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

One of his defense lawyers, Anne Taylor, told Luster, "Your honor, he has remorse."

She said any more time in prison would only serve to punish Ellington.

Along with punishment, a judge also can consider deterrence and protection of society when sentencing.

Taylor said Ellington has "worked to change himself," including finding religion and reconnecting with family.

"He went back to the faith he was raised in," she said.

Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen said, "What he did that day was something that he did by choice," including hitting the Larsen sisters' car with his Blazer, then running over Vonette.

Verharen added, "He takes no responsibility for the actions he took that day."

Mark Ellington, Ellington's younger brother, from Ogden, Utah, said, "He feels the loss. It's constantly on his mind."

Jovon Larsen said she "watched a crazed man run over our mother."

She called him an "angry, violent, drunken murderer."

The Idaho Supreme Court overturned an initial conviction and allowed a new jury trial, citing perjury by a prosecution witness and prosecutorial misconduct. The previous trial was in 2006.

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  • sukisuki posted at 3:02 pm on Tue, Mar 27, 2012.

    sukisuki Posts: 24

    Like i said in the other post....IF the judge said the Larsons were just as guilty and share the blame then why are they NOT being charged. WHY are the Larson's still roaming around free when THEY "share" the blame?
    Why hasn't the prosecutors file charges against the Larsons? When will they be held accountable? Who have they paid off"

  • babydriver posted at 8:34 am on Tue, Mar 27, 2012.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    Injustice at it's best

  • lykitlykthat posted at 11:08 pm on Mon, Mar 26, 2012.

    lykitlykthat Posts: 4

    I also think that all of the people involved were responsible for what happened that day.

    Ellington was drunk driving and apparently impatient to get wherever he was going. Instead of behaving like an adult and going on his way, he stopped in front of them and behaved like an angry juvenile bully; threatening two silly girls who he felt were “messing” with him on the road. Then, instead of staying home once he'd lost his pursuers, he went out drunk driving again. Only this time he now had two vehicles chasing him. Instead of going to a public place where he might have avoided being shot at – which was why he said he was fleeing in the first place – he goes down another isolated narrow road where he is eventually trapped while making a turn, and attacks the Larsens with his vehicle, hitting first the parents' car and then hitting and pushing the girls' car until it was half in the ditch. Whether or not he saw Vonette before he hit her – only he can know, but it is unlikely that he would have been able to stop in time to avoid her anyway – since he was drunk.

    Joleen and Jovan Larsen were pissed off because Ellington was tailgating them and trying to pass them on a narrow road. They were outraged that he yelled at them and hit their window. They rightly called 911, gave a summary of what happened and a description of the vehicle, which had no plates. Instead of relying on police to use their resources to locate the obviously angry man, they (probably with some excitement) went after him themselves. Then, when police arrived, they failed to listen to him by staying where they were and waiting for him to return. They felt he didn't listen and went the wrong way – so they told daddy, who, instead of being protective of his family by telling his daughters to get home and let police handle the matter – gets his wife to drive him to the scene to avenge them (his arm was in a cast or something).

    Joel and Vonette Larsen – not only did they fail to tell their girls to come home – they grabbed the gun and hunted Ellington themselves when they thought police weren't doing a good enough job. They then chased and tried to trap Ellington to make him pay for his actions towards their daughters, which, up to that point, amounted only to tailgating them, passing them, yelling at them, and hitting their window. All bad, but certainly not as bad as risking multiple lives by chasing someone you don't know down public roads at 90 MPH, followed by your daughters who are going equally fast. How did they know Ellington didn't have a child in the car? Or a gun of his own? They didn't, but they chased him anyway – and then tried to block him in with their vehicles. Is it legal to stop in the middle of the road, essentially blocking both lanes to all traffic? Not that I know of. Why not just get out of his way, let him turn around, and watch where he goes at this point?

    Not one of these people exercised even a grunion of common sense. Their behavior was inexcusable and incomprehensible. Now the remaining Larsens will have grief for the rest of their lives and Ellington will lose another few years of his life to prison. It's tragic justice for all.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 8:53 pm on Mon, Mar 26, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969


    well said

  • IChoseNID posted at 7:04 pm on Mon, Mar 26, 2012.

    IChoseNID Posts: 83

    "Might be spending only two more years"....

    The judge should have sentenced him to six years, credited his time served, and let him walk away. Six years was enough for the part he played, considering the Larsen's got off Scot free for their MUCH larger part.

    At least the judge made reference to the Larsen's having responsibility for Vonette Larsen's death. I hope someday that sinks into the brain of those morons.

  • CaiusCosades posted at 6:21 pm on Mon, Mar 26, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 378

    Was it worth it? Was one small exchange where someone felt slighted really worth someone dying, gun shots, someone in prison, and families ruined? They are all guilty. I see natural selection removing them from the gene pool which is nice.

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