Friday, November 20, 2009

Heather Ellis Claims She was Assaulted – There was blood in her Jacket Pocket


KENNETT, Mo. (AP) -- Closing arguments ended Friday and a jury took up the case of a black school teacher charged with assaulting white police officers, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace at a Southeast Missouri store.

A jury of 10 white women, one black woman and one black man began deliberating Heather Ellis' case late Friday. One of the last to testify in the three-day trial, Ellis maintained Friday that white police officers had attacked and abused her.

Prosecutors said Ellis, a Louisiana school teacher, cut in line at the Kennett Walmart in January 2007, then became belligerent and attacked officers called in to quell the scuffle. The 24-year-old faces up to 15 years in prison if she is convicted of the felony charges against her.

The racial overtones of the case have drawn national interest. Prosecutor Morley Swingle said Friday the defense was trying to portray Kennett as "some racist Hooterville."

The customer who accused Ellis of pushing in line, the assistant store manager and arresting officers are all white.

Police said Ellis used obscene language and kicked and bit officers as they led her out of the store.

In nearly two hours of testimony, Ellis denied cursing or attacking anyone. Instead, she said, it was police who assaulted her in the parking lot after she was led outside.


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