A Lawrence man serving a 22-year prison sentence for aggravated sexual battery is asking a Douglas County judge to give him a new trial and claims new evidence proves he is innocent.
But Douglas County prosecutors question the credibility of the witnesses who 28-year-old Jason Ellison has cited, including two other prison inmates. District Judge Robert Fairchild has scheduled a July 11 hearing to hear evidence about Ellison’s claims in the case.
A Douglas County jury in November 2006 convicted Ellison of aggravated sexual battery and found him not guilty of attempted aggravated criminal sodomy, and Fairchild sentenced Ellison to serve 272 months in prison. According to court records, a sister of Ellison’s former girlfriend in July 2006 accused Ellison of attempting to molest her twice when he lived with the family.
But Ellison says witnesses allege in four instances since the trial the woman indicated to them her allegations about Ellison were not true, and defense attorney Napoleon Crews said one witness alleged the woman said she wanted to punish Ellison for cheating on her sister.
“The victim didn’t start making these statements until after he was convicted,” Crews told Fairchild at an earlier hearing.
One of the witnesses the defense cites is Jeffrey Campbell, a 34-year-old prison inmate currently at Larned State Hospital. In an affidavit, he said the woman “openly” told him and other people in a room on Dec. 16, 2006, that her accusations were not true and that she was upset one of the charges against Ellison was dropped.
Campbell said she made these statements three days before the Ottawa shooting he was convicted of being involved in. Campbell is currently serving an attempted murder sentence.
Douglas County prosecutors say Fairchild should dismiss the motion for a new trial because the statements are biased, including one from Ellison’s father, Terry Ellison.
“Ellison’s affidavits do not credibly demonstrate new evidence under the legal standard,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Hurley wrote in a motion. “The four affidavits are not credible, irrelevant and are unduly biased.”
According to court records, the new witnesses’ allegations came to light as part of an investigation by student interns from the Kansas University School of Law’s Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.
The Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, and the Kansas Supreme Court refused to hear Ellison’s appeal in January 2009.