Prosecutors rest their case in re-trial - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Prosecutors rest their case in re-trial

Jovon Larsen testifies about New Year's Day 2006

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:15 am

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.

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  • shorty64 posted at 7:43 am on Mon, Jan 30, 2012.

    shorty64 Posts: 5

    i have know jon ellington for 35 years,he has had his bouts with the law and has made mistakes,as most of us have.jon has a big heart and is a good person,he would never intentionally hurt someone let alone kill is a shame that he was wrongly charged and convicted cuz of his just saying...
    they should not have focused so much on his past mainly cuz( he dont live ther anymore).he moved from utah only to have a fresh start.i just hope and pray the jury can see through this mess and do the right thing,as for jon this is a part of his life he can never get back.i am sorry for the loss for the larsen family,but as we have all read and heard they did bring it on jon love you and im praying for you. keep your head and hope this jury is not as ANUL as the last one.

  • sukisuki posted at 4:24 pm on Fri, Jan 27, 2012.

    sukisuki Posts: 24

    "She also told authorities she thought it was some "crackhead Mexican,". "

    Well, this statement tells me exactly what type of person JOVON Larson is....she doesn't sound like a good person and with those kind of statements it makes me wonder about her upbringing. Holier than thou a little?

  • babydriver posted at 12:33 pm on Fri, Jan 27, 2012.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    She said she thought, at least initially, that it was a "jerk" neighbor who had a similar looking vehicle and regularly drove too fast.


    So she already had an attitude with her hangover and maybe set out to (upset) off Ellington for being this 'Jerk' she speaks of??

    Or maybe she was going to show this 'crackhead mexican' a thing or two??

    Speaks volumes don't it?

  • Joseph Jr posted at 10:37 pm on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    Joseph Jr Posts: 512

    There would be NO REACTION TIME IF SOMEONE WERE SHOOTING AT ME WITH ANY GUN. The whole idea of reaction time when you're being shot at is ludicrous! Ask an Iraqi War Vet if he waited 1.6 seconds before responding to rounds.

    I take it, none of the prosecutors are members of the local VFW's?

  • Flash Gordon posted at 8:38 pm on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1683

    What a group of immature people to converge together all at the same time with such....fatal consequences. I'm surprised "they" still have driving privileges....and....second degree murder????? The prosecutor would have better served the public interest with ....manslaughter.

    Road rage, alcohol, pride, vengeance, and terrible judgement set this mess into motion....there ought to be a "law"..........

  • Rogue Cop posted at 4:50 pm on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    Rogue Cop Posts: 2371

    The Prosecution rested? I think they rested when they should have been working. So when do they put on their real case?

    It is apparent to me that the only reason the Prosecutor retried this case was to appease the Larsons and whomever might criticize them for not doing so. What a total waste of taxpayer money. This was pure and simple a public relations stunt gone bad, and the Prosecutor should be held accountable for the incompetent manner in which they handled this case.

    The Defense should call one witness, Corporal Rice the discredited ISP "expert", and then rest their case. The Prosecution didn't even put on a prima facie 2nd Degree Murder case. Disturbing the peace or MAYBE reckless driving.

    I think the Prosecution threw in the towel and figured that Ellington did 6 years so, screw it.

  • Ziggy posted at 3:29 pm on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1295

    This whole case points out one great lesson: what your mama said, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can't hurt me." Ditto for gestures. I grew up here so all this traffic annoys the heck out of me. But, being a mature person, I have learned to just laugh at the bad drivers, brush off insults and/or gestures. It is not worth getting killed over. This case points out that there are idiots out there, such as these two girls who were probably never told "no" in their entire life and so had to call mommy and daddy because someone finally called them on their bad behavior, mommy and daddy who should have told the girls to come home right now, or stay put as the officer had told them, and the police who didn't charge Larsen.
    Everyone, brush off the rudeness of immature drivers. It's not worth getting killed or getting someone killed over.

  • Codyvale posted at 1:11 pm on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    Codyvale Posts: 24

    While I honestly do feel sorry for the Larson-family's loss, the more I read about this story, the more I get angry that they are not held accountable for their actions. I mean, everything about this story indicates, ultimately, the Larson's actions is what cause that lady to die.

  • CHSdad posted at 11:06 am on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    CHSdad Posts: 383

    I agree with IChoseNID. All the reporting of the case would suggest that the Larsons should be in court, so why on earth is Ellington there? He tried to avoid the conflict, they insisted on it. What is the prosecutors agenda? Justice doesn't seem to come into it.

  • IChoseNID posted at 10:37 am on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    IChoseNID Posts: 83

    I keep waiting for information that would explain why Ellington was even charged for Vonette Larsen's death, much less convicted of it, and why the other members of the Larsen family weren't prosecuted.

    I still haven't seen it.

  • cococo posted at 10:06 am on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    cococo Posts: 148

    I too "ditto" DeNiles comments for all of these case related articles.
    Stories like this are why I do not believe in our Judicial no longer seems to be about "right or wrong", "guilt or innocence". It seems to have become some sort of "game" that we allow attorneys to play with all of our lives.
    Back to the trial at hand.....If Ellington's "frame of mind" came into play after a "fight" with his girlfriend, what about the state of mind of the girls? You know......AT LEAST ONE UNDERAGE IDIOT WITH A HANGOVER, maybe two. (Not sure of the oldest ones age at the time.) If Daddy was so concerned about his daughters safety and well being, maybe he should have told them to get their butts home and scolded them for breaking the law.......oh wait......Daddy has no concern for the laws.

  • DeNiles posted at 7:29 am on Thu, Jan 26, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    --"He yelled at me and punched my window. And he looked ANGRY."--

    I'm gonna call my Daddy and he'll show em! He'll gets his gun and we'll find this son-of-a-'turkey' no matter how long it takes. We'll chase him to hades back yard if we gotta. Then he'll see. He'll get his. My Momma and Daddy'll show em then.

    And what is even DUMBER? The authorities let them get away with it!! The message: Everyone had better get 2 six shooters and wear a holster. Cuz if somebody calls ye a scoundrel and a liar it is perfectly okie dokie to chase em down and shoot-em-up.

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