DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled unanimously Wednesday to reverse the convictions of former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Ellis was convicted last summer in July after a jury found him guilty of one count of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and three counts of perjury. A previous trial ended in a hung-jury.
In their opinion released Wednesday, the Court said that although evidence was sufficient to convict Ellis, technical errors forced the Court to reverse any criminal convictions against him.
According to the Court, the decision was reversed after they ruled errors were made related to testimony from a special Grand Juror during the re-trial. The Court also said the judge presiding over the re-trial did not allow Ellis' defense team to present other evidence that the defense believed would show Ellis never extorted anyone.
Ellis' 2015 conviction was the result of a re-trial, in which prosecutors said Ellis attempted to extort a campaign contribution from Power and Energy Services in an effort to raise money to pay down his campaign debt. When the company didn't respond to his request, Ellis allegedly threatened to cut the company's contract with DeKalb County.
Ellis had first been tried in 2014, but it was declared a mistrial after the jury couldn't come to a unanimous verdict.
The Court said it would now be up to the DeKalb County District Attorney whether to retry Ellis, who has already served his time in prison following his 2015 convictions. Ellis was released early March.
In a statement, D.A. Robert James wrote that while he and his prosecutors respect the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court, they were "obviously disappointed." They said they are now assessing whether they will file a motion for reconsideration.
The newly-elected D.A., Sherry Boston, who takes office next month, would not say whether she would put Ellis on trial again, saying, "...as this is a pending matter, it would be inappropriate for me to comment regarding my intentions prior to January 1, 2017, when I officially assume the position of DeKalb County District Attorney."
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