COEUR d'ALENE - Prosecutors on Wednesday rested their case in the re-trial of Jonathan W. Ellington, who is charged with second-degree murder for running over and killing a woman on New Year's Day six years ago.
The final prosecution witness was Jovon Larsen, 27, one of the two sisters who were confronted by Ellington, 51, Athol, in his Chevrolet Blazer on Ramsey Road on that Sunday morning in 2006. A high-speed chase that followed, which was joined by the sisters' parents, ended in the death of their mother, Vonette Larsen, 41, of Athol, after she got out of her vehicle as the chase ended and was run over by Ellington.
Jurors in 1st District Court in Kootenai County will have to decide whether Ellington ran her over deliberately, or accidentally in the heat of a chaotic situation in which his Blazer was being shot at by Vonette Larsen's husband, Joel Larsen, using his silver and black .44-caliber Magnum revolver.
Jovon Larsen, who currently lives in Spirit Lake but was a Hayden resident at the time of the incident, told the jury the first memory she has of that day was the grille of Ellington's Blazer.
"All of the sudden there was a vehicle right behind me," she told the jury. She said she thought, at least initially, that it was a "jerk" neighbor who had a similar looking vehicle and regularly drove too fast. She also told authorities she thought it was some "crackhead Mexican," according to testimony.
Jovon Larsen had been driving to her parents' home that morning with her younger sister, Joleen Larsen. They had been out partying the night before for New Year's Eve. Both had too much to drink and had to get a ride home from the party, she said.
They got up about 10 a.m. and headed for their parents' home.
She was northbound on Ramsey when Ellington appeared.
He passed her and then darted in front of her. At a stop sign where Ramsey intersects Brunner Road, he exited his Blazer and walked back to her 1996 Honda Accord.
"He started yelling at us and punched my window," she said. He looked "angry."
She then told Joleen Larsen, 24, to call 911, which she did.
Ellington got back in his Blazer and took off, turning east on Brunner. The sisters followed.
Soon Ellington stopped, and when the sisters did, too, he reversed back toward them, she said.
"He stopped right in front of my car," she said.
He took off again and turned north from Brunner onto Weir Road, then reached Seasons Road and turned east.
The sisters continued following him, and soon he made a U-turn on Seasons and was westbound, passing the sisters who had stopped.
"He was flipping us off as he was driving by," she said.
Jovon Larsen said she did a U-turn, too, and continued the chase.
They reached Weir and turned south, heading back toward Brunner. When they got there they didn't see Ellington's Blazer.
She said she had a good idea where he had gone, though.
"I assumed that he was at the residence he stopped at previously," referring to the location along Brunner where he had stopped and backed up toward her car.
Soon the sisters met with Kootenai County sheriff's deputy William Klinkefus, who was dispatched to the scene. They met at the Brunner and Ramsey roads intersection.
They had called their parents, too, after getting off the phone with the 911 operator. Their parents, driving a maroon Subaru passenger car, showed up after Klinkefus had left the scene heading west on Brunner.
The parents left the sisters and went east on Brunner, to some homes on the north side of the road, where Jovon Larsen believed Ellington had gone.
The parents would return to the sisters and leave again, going back to the private residences on the north side of Brunner.
Soon, Joel Larsen spotted the Blazer. It took off, headed west on Brunner, then turned south on Ramsey, crossing in front of the sisters' vehicle. Again, Ellington flipped them off as he went by, she said. Klinkefus was nowhere to be seen.
"(The Blazer) was right where I thought it was," Jovon Larsen said.
Under cross examination from public defender John Adams, she couldn't explain why she let Klinkefus take off looking for the Blazer in the wrong direction.
As the two Larsen vehicles began chasing Ellington south on Ramsey, Joleen Larsen again called 911.
She said her car reached speeds of 80 mph during the chase. Previous testimony, including by Joleen Larsen, suggested the speeds reached 90 mph, maybe even higher for Ellington's Blazer.
Soon Ellington turned west on Scarcello Road and drove into a snowbank as he turned onto a driveway, less than a mile from Highway 41 and Twin Lakes Village.
The two Larsen cars stopped just east of the driveway, with the sisters' vehicle in the westbound lane and their parents' Subaru in the eastbound lane.
Ellington reversed out of the snowbank and the side of his Blazer and the front of the Subaru collided. Ellington then allegedly rammed the front of his Blazer into the front of the Honda, pushing it partially off the road on the north side.
"I saw the front of his Blazer where the front of my car should have been," she said.
During all this she didn't see her mother hit by the Blazer, but saw her rolling underneath.
Joel Larsen testified earlier that he fired a round from his revolver into the motor of the Blazer to stop it after it rammed the Honda. He said he wanted to stop the Blazer before it hit his wife. The shot to the motor did nothing and the Blazer sped toward his wife and struck her, he said.
Law enforcement investigators also found where a round from his revolver hit the rubber molding of a rear side window on the Blazer. There's disagreement about when that round was fired.
Ellington spent six years locked up for this incident before the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his conviction after finding a prosecution witness lied on the stand. He faces many more years if convicted this time.
The re-trial, which started last week, is moving much faster than the 2006 trial, which lasted 11 days.
Jurors today are scheduled to visit the scene on Scarcello Road.