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Published: Saturday, 1/30/2010

Man pleads no contest to hindering slaying inquiry

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ellis Ellis
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Armed with a 40-caliber handgun he had "flashed" throughout the night, James Ellis III was out drinking with friends on the night one of them shot and killed a man, an assistant county prosecutor said Friday.

Ellis then spent the ensuing hours trying to hinder the investigation.

Ellis, 30, of 5910 Spring Hollow Dr. pleaded no contest in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday to one count each of obstructing justice and carrying a concealed weapon. Authorities said he was there the night that Colin Fisher was shot. Fisher died on the porch of a Springfield Township home.

He faces up to 6 1/2 years in prison when sentenced March 1 by Judge Stacy Cook.

"This defendant and the other defendant tried to create a story

[as an alibi,]" Assistant Prosecutor Michael Loisel said, adding that Ellis had access to the murder weapon and "gave it to another individual who gave it to another individual, hindering the discovery of evidence."

Mr. Fisher, 23, died Aug. 4 of a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. The man who pulled the trigger, Scott Schoch, pleaded no contest to murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

At Schoch's Jan. 20 plea and sentencing, authorities revealed what occurred in the final hours of Mr. Fisher's life.

Schoch and Ellis had been out drinking Aug. 3 when they first met Mr. Fisher in a local bar and invited him to an after-hours establishment.

The three men were leaving for the night when Schoch became angry after learning he and Mr. Fisher had a mutual acquaintance - someone who owed him money, authorities said.

Assistant County Prosecutor Jeff Lingo explained that during the argument, Schoch put a gun to Mr. Fisher's head. Mr. Fisher then feigned illness to get Ellis, who was driving, to stop the car.

When the car was stopped in the area of Dorr Street, Mr. Fisher "took off running" and Schoch "took off after him," Mr. Lingo said.

Mr. Lingo described Mr. Fisher's next panicked moments as he ran into a nearby wooded area and called 911. He told the emergency dispatcher he didn't know where he was and begged for help.

The next call was Mr. Fisher telling the dispatcher he had been shot and that "Scott" had shot him. Schoch's DNA was found on the trigger of the murder weapon.

Mr. Fisher stumbled onto the porch of a home on Dorr Street, where the homeowners called emergency crews. He died of a single gunshot wound.

Schoch was charged with Mr. Fisher's murder. Ellis was charged with having a weapon on him that night as well as helping to conceal evidence after the fact.

Mr. Fisher's family yesterday watched Ellis enter a plea to all the charges he faced. They left the courtroom after the hearing without comment.

Attorney Sam Kaplan told Judge Cook that although Ellis had initially helped to hide the murder weapon, the gun was ultimately recovered with his assistance. He said he would address the issue further at Ellis' sentencing.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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