VICTORVILLE – An Adelanto gang member who was convicted for a 2009 murder of a man and woman was sentenced to death on Friday. On November 23, 2009, James Ellis, along with three other men and a woman plotted to rob Ealy Davis, a drug dealer.
James Ellis, 28, of Adelanto, Forrest Taylor, 30, of Los Angeles, Sandra Smith, 37, of Adelanto, William Jacobs, 30, of Adelanto, and Joseph Bowen, 22, of Victorville all met at Smith’s home. While at her home, the foursome talked about their shared desire to acquire drugs and money, leading them to the suggestion of robbing a drug dealer. Ellis showed the others that he had a handgun and Smith suggested that they rob Ealy Davis Jr., 28, who was dating her half-sister Shameka Reliford.
Smith gave Taylor, Davis’ cell phone number that was used to convince Davis to meet them in a secluded area near Westside Park Elementary School. Davis agreed to meet and at the meeting place, Ellis approached his vehicle. Shameka Reliford was in the front seat and two others were in the backseat.
Ellis asked Davis, “Do you got me?” and Davis replied “Yes.” Ellis then stepped back, pulled his handgun out and shot 4 to 5 times into the vehicle. Davis died immediately, and Reliford was taken to Victor Valley Global Medical Center (formerly known as Victor Valley Community Hospital) where she died as a result of the shooting.
Taylor has since been sentenced with life without the possibility of parole on May 14, 2013. Smith was sentenced to 18 years in prison on February 6, 2012. Jacobs was sentenced to 13 years and 8 months on February 19, 2016. Bowen was sentenced to probation for being an accessory after the face on January 6, 2012.
On October 3, 2016, Ellis was found guilty by a jury of two counts of First-degree murder and one count of Active Participation in a Criminal Street Gang. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait, murder during the commission of a robbery, murder while an active participant in a criminal street gang and multiple murder which made Ellis eligible for the death penalty. On Friday, June 16, 2017, Judge Eric M. Nakata sentenced Ellis to death in the Victorville Superior Court.
“Seeking the death penalty is one of the single most difficult decisions I have to make, and it is reserved for the worst of the worst criminals,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos. “When we seek the death penalty, it is important to remember that it is not a reflection of our brutality, but rather an expression of our disdain for the defendant’s brutal actions.”
This case was investigated by the Adelanto Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide Division.
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