by Kristen Tuntland
The jury returned around 11 AM on Friday, February 1, with the verdict for Jerald James Elledge on six charges.
Before reading the verdict, the Honorable David Rosenberg asked the jury foreperson a few questions about problems encountered on the first charge of burglary. The foreperson stated that they took four votes on this charge but the jury was split every time. Judge Rosenberg asked every single juror whether, if given more time, they could come to a decision, and every juror said they would not.
With this information, charge one of burglary was declared a mistrial. On charges two and three of burglary, Mr. Elledge was found guilty. On the next three charges of vandalism, unauthorized entry, and resisting arrest, Mr. Elledge was also found guilty.
Sentencing will resume on Monday, February 4, at 10 AM, where the prosecution will decide to retry or not retry charge one of burglary.
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By Elizabeth Griffiths
The closing arguments for the People v. Jerald James Elledge were given today as Elledge faces up to three charges of burglary as well as charges for vandalism and resisting arrest by a peace officer.
For the prosecution, Deputy District Attorney Shelby Davitt began her closing statements, saying that Elledge had been “caught red-handed.” She then showed pictures of Mr. Elledge stealing a TV from an apartment, and with drywall on his hands that resulted from his attempt to escape the police by putting a hole in the wall of an apartment closet to get to the next apartment.
Ms. Davitt proceeded to play a recording of the apartment resident’s call to 911 reporting that a Hispanic male about 5’10 and wearing a white tank top had broken into her apartment. Ms. Davitt then showed pictures of the door which he broke by kicking it open to get into the apartment. On the door was a footprint that had identical prints to that of the shoes Mr. Elledge was wearing the day he was taken into custody. The photo of the shoe print on the door also reveals the same wear marks on the sole of the shoe as the shoe Mr. Elledge was wearing.
The prosecution also showed pictures of the damage Elledge caused in two apartments at Tanglewood. In the first apartment, he pulled the washer out of the wall to barricade himself from the police. He then proceeded to make a hole in the closet wall to get into the next apartment.
Ms. Davitt used these pictures of the hole in the wall to prove that Mr. Elledge intended to damage the wall so that he could get into the next apartment and that he intended to create as much damage as necessary to get through to the neighboring apartment.
Next, Ms. Davitt showed the jury the invoice of the damage caused by Mr. Elledge to explain how it qualifies as a felony vandalism charge, since it generated over $400 worth of damage.
Ms. Davitt also argued that Elledge resisted and delayed a peace officer, as the body camera of Officer Eric Labbe shows Mr. Elledge running away once he saw the police. Also, Officer Labbe estimated that it took about 30-45 mins to detain Elledge.
Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson, representing Mr. Elledge, began his closing statements by pointing out how the resident who encountered Mr. Elledge in her apartment could not identify him in court when asked if she saw the man who broke into her apartment. He referenced the officers who had said Mr. Elledge had gained weight since the incident occurred, thus making him look different than the day he broke into her apartment. However, Mr. Johansson showed the jury pictures of Mr. Elledge in the hospital after he was apprehended, to show how he had not gained much weight since that day.
Furthermore, Mr. Johansson pointed out it was not until the resident saw a picture of Mr. Elledge that she confirmed he was the man who broke into her apartment. The defense argued that this was unfair because there was no line up of photos and thus there was a “neon sign” pointing to his identification.
Mr. Johansson also argued that Mr. Elledge may not be the man who broke into the apartment, because the resident only described him as having a mustache and not a beard, and does not remember if he had tattoos.
In Ms. Davitt’s rebuttal remarks, she pointed out how Mr. Elledge looked very different in the courtroom wearing a collared shirt and tie instead of the white tank top. She also made a note of how his face is fuller as he has gained weight since he had first entered the resident’s apartment in July 2018. Furthermore, the description the resident had given matches his appearance perfectly. The resident was unable to identify the exact facial hair or tattoos he had; however, Ms. Davitt pointed out that the tattoos are on the back side of his neck and may not have been seen when the resident was standing face to face with him.
During the prosecutor’s closing statements she provided a map with the time it would take to get from Arlington Farm apartments to Tanglewood apartments, which suggested it would take about six to 10 minutes. However, Mr. Johansson argued that this timing is inaccurate because the traffic for that specific day during that particular time was not taken into account.
Mr. Johansson also argued that the footprint on the door could have been a different shoe since it is not know how common the type of shoe he was wearing is. He then posed the question of “how many other shoes have this pattern?” Also, in regard to the vandalism charge, the defense argued that Mr. Elledge was only attempting to get away from the police, and not trying to vandalize the apartments.
Mr. Johansson ended his argument by talking about the Scottish legal system and how one can be guilty, not guilty, or not proven. He also stated that the verdict of “not proven” in Scotland results in the charges being dropped as if the defendant were not guilty.
Ms. Davitt concluded her arguments by stating that it is unreasonable to assume that another 5′ 10″, Hispanic male, wearing a white tank top with the same Air Jordan shoes was burglarizing two apartments in Davis 40 minutes apart. She also pointed out how we are not in Scotland, we are in America, and we as a nation abide by the Constitution of the United States of America, not Scotland’s legal system.