Ellis sentenced for a 'one-man crime spree'
Associate Justice Lance Garth sentenced Michael B. Ellis, 21, to two years in the Barnstable House of Corrections Friday, after the young felon pled guilty in Edgartown District Court to a series of larcenies, housebreaks, and malicious destruction of property, committed over several months.
One week earlier, on April 30 in Edgartown Superior Court, Mr. Ellis received a two-year sentence for his part in the robbery of George Buckley, 79, a ticket taker at the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Ellis, who grew up in a series of foster homes on the Vineyard and attended Island schools, will serve his sentences concurrently.
In court Friday, assistant district attorney Laura Marshard outlined the evidence against Mr. Ellis. She said Mr. Ellis spent 10 months in the Dukes County House of Corrections for similar crimes in 2006. She said the district attorney's office is frustrated at the escalating nature of the new crimes.
"Mr. Ellis is not getting the message," Ms. Marshard told the court. She outlined a recurring pattern of Mr. Ellis breaking into summer homes when owners were away, living there for weeks at a time while stealing electronics and destroying property. She described homes that were left in a mess, with burn marks on the walls.
Ms. Marshard listed homes on Pilgrim's Road and Thirteenth Street in Edgartown as places Mr. Ellis lived. She told the court that Mr. Ellis is responsible for more than $9,000 worth of damage at the home on Thirteenth Street.
Ms. Marshard said he invited others into the houses and taught them how to commit crimes, including a 13-year-old boy who had run away from home.
"He is showing them how to break into these homes," she said. "These are homes that people care about."
Ms. Marshard also told the court that Mr. Ellis was behind a break-in at the Katherine M. Foote Animal Shelter in Edgartown. Four kittens were stolen from the shelter. The kittens were later recovered unharmed.
Pursuant to the terms of his guilty plea, Mr. Ellis admitted to the facts, as outlined by Ms. Marshard.
Ms. Marshard argued for a stiff sentence from Judge Garth. She noted that less than a year after his release from an earlier jail term she called "lenient," he was arrested again.
"Now he's back before the court, another one-man crime spree," said Ms. Marshard. "At what point has the community had enough? At what point does rehabilitation give way to punishment?"
In arguing for a lesser sentence, attorney Al Daniels, who represented Mr. Ellis, asked Judge Garth for parity in sentencing. "This is not a one-man crime spree, there were others involved," he said. "It is the case that he has made some errors."
Mr. Ellis pleaded guilty to 12 different charges, in four separate cases, including larceny from a building, breaking and entering at night to commit a felony, malicious destruction of property, and defacing property. He was ordered back to court on May 29, for a hearing on restitution for the stolen items and damaged property.