Clovis News

Clovis man gets 16 years to life for wife's slaying

A Clovis man who killed his estranged wife after he caught her in bed with another man was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years to life in prison.

A shackled Cantrell Ellis, 39, showed no emotion in Fresno County Superior Court when his sentence was announced.

He received 15 years to life in prison for killing 33-year-old Charlotte Ellis inside her home on May 2, 2008, and one year for using a knife.

"Make no mistake, there is not a winner in the case of People versus Cantrell Ellis," Judge Robert Oliver said, noting that the couple's two children will have to live without their parents.

Ellis also inflicted emotional scars on Charlotte Ellis' family, the judge said.

"You have hurt so many lives," said Marge McCain, the victim's mother.

"May God have mercy on your soul."

McCain told Ellis that all Charlotte wanted was for him to spend time with her and their children. Instead, Ellis went to bars to drink with his friends, McCain said.

The couple had been married 14 years but had recently separated.

During his trial, a sobbing Ellis testified that he and his wife were unfaithful to each other, but they always got back together.

During the separation, Ellis said he had gone to his estranged wife's home several times at night and peeked through windows because it gave him peace of mind to know they were safe.

But on the night of the killing, Ellis admitted he drank alcohol.

He said that when he saw Sadon Scott in bed with his estranged wife, he lost control and used a rock to break a window to enter the home. He then wrestled with Scott, who escaped through the front door.

Ellis testified that he didn't remember killing his estranged wife.

He compared the incident to an "out-of-body" experience.

"It was like I'm watching a movie. I'm watching myself doing things that I had no control over," he testified.

Prosecutor Michael Frye, however, said in closing arguments that Ellis went to his estranged wife's home to spy on her. When he saw Scott and in Charlotte Ellis' bed, he attacked the two in a jealous rage, Frye said.

Police later found Cantrell Ellis covered with blood outside his estranged wife's home.

Inside, Charlotte Ellis had six stab wounds and 42 slashes to her body.

During deliberations, the jury inspected the two knives that were used to kill Charlotte Ellis and listened to her 911 call.

"Why, Charlotte, why?" Cantrell Ellis shouted in the 911 recording as his estranged wife cried before she was stabbed to death in her home in the 2600 block of Sierra Madre Avenue.

On Dec. 4, a jury convicted Ellis of second-degree murder. The panel also found him guilty of burglary and assault for attacking Scott.

Tuesday, attorney Sal Sciandra, who represents Ellis, argued that the attack was done in the heat of passion, and therefore his client was guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

But Oliver declined to change the jury's verdict, saying there was sufficient evidence to support the panel's finding of second-degree murder.

The judge cited evidence that Cantrell Ellis had made threats against his estranged wife and had trespassed at her home several times before the killing.

Oliver, however, allowed a prison sentence of four years for the burglary conviction to run concurrently with Ellis's punishment for murder. The judge also stayed a three-year prison term for the assault on Scott.