Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis is facing an uncertain future as he awaits a verdict from the jury deliberating his second public corruption trial. Ellis is charged with nine counts of bribery, perjury and theft by extortion. He was indicted in 2013 for allegedly extorting campaign cotributions from business owners who had cotracts with the county and has always denied cancelled contracts of vendors who refused to make a donation to his 2012 bid for re-election.
During closing arguments on June 24, defense attorney Craig Gillen told jurors the state offered no evidence of criminal activity and insisted the state's key witness, former purchasing director Kelvin Walton, was a "serial perjurer" used by the state as a "puddy man" to fill in the holes in their state's case. Gillen says Ellis had nothing to hide and took the stand for three days to help the jury understand why he was not guilty.
"Please return a verdict that speaks the truth in this case and the truth is, he is not guilty," Gillen told the jury of six men and six women Wednesday.
District Attorney Robert James leveled pointed character attacks at the defendant as he described the Ellis administration as "a sewer of corruption." In closing he stood in foront of Ellis and faced the jury and said,
"This man hurt people! Do you understand that? This was not a victimless crime! (One vendor) lost a $250,000 contract...over a campaign call? Seriously?" He went on to describe as a liar who was motivated by debt, desperation and deceipt to fund his campaign.
The first trial ended in a mistrial in October 2014 when an all-female jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict after nearly 2 weeks of deliberations. Thursday marks the first full day of deliberations for the new jury that was seated the first week of June.