Man gets 12 years in prison for cemetery hold-up

Cary Ashby • Jan 20, 2014 at 11:33 PM

The victim of an Oct. 24 armed robbery said "there aren't any words to describe what it felt like."

The man said he felt terrified and helpless as defendant Garry D. Ellis Jr. pulled a gun on him and made him walk into a small shelter near a Hartland Township cemetery. The victim was doing some landscaping before Ellis approached him.

"Every step I took, I asked God, 'Please don't let him shoot me. Please don't let him shoot me,'" the victim said.

"All he had to do was ask for money. I would have given whatever he needed," said the man, who was willing to give Ellis a ride if that's what he wanted.

Ellis, 21, most recently of 1475 DeRussey Road, Collins, pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated robbery.

As part of a joint recommendation between the state and defense attorney Mike Jackson, Ellis was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He first must serve three years for the firearm specification, followed by nine years for the actual sentence.

In a plea deal, the state dismissed one count each of abduction, felonious assault, theft of a firearm, theft and tampering with evidence.

"The defendant decided he needed some money. ... He wanted drugs," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.

Ellis told the victim he needed gas money, asked to use his cell phone and after "he dialed some non-existent numbers, (he) pulled out a gun," Leffler said.

The defendant ordered the victim to get into a small shelter before he drove off. Leffler said Ellis stole the man's pickup truck and lawnmower.

"He was chased back to his house. Police arrived," said Leffler, who credited Ellis with being cooperative with the Huron County Sheriff's Office. "He violated the trust of the family he was staying with."

Ellis' girlfriend, Shannon N. Roe, 27, of Wooster, goes to trial March 13 on obstructing justice on an allegation she lied about Ellis' whereabouts. If convicted, she faces nine months to three years in prison. Roe earlier posted a $10,000 bond.

"The firearm has been tested and it is operable," Leffler said about the gun, which investigators suspect was stolen.

Jackson said he and his client had a chance to talk a lot about what happened and the consequences if the gun accidentally fired.

"He has accepted the gravity of the situation," Jackson said. "He does have a child. He has a reason to get better while he is in prison."

"I'm sorry for what I did. I wasn't in the right state of mind," Ellis said as he faced Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway.

"I hope the victim will forgive me," he added quietly.

Citing Ellis' lengthy criminal record, which includes a robbery charge as a juvenile, Leffler said this isn't the defendant's "first rodeo."

Ellis faces five years of mandatory parole once he's released from prison.

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