Witness likens Burrell Ellis' tactics to that of a 'murderer' - CBS46 News

Witness likens Burrell Ellis' tactics to that of a 'murderer'

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Testimony was halted and the defense asked for a mistrial after the prosecution's star witness likened suspended DeKalb CEO Burrel Ellis' alleged strong-arm tactics to that of a "murderer."

Ellis is accused of threatening contractors to donate to his campaign or lose county work.

Kelvin Walton, the county's purchasing director, testified for the second day on Wednesday.

He told the court Ellis ordered him to let work dry up for Power and Energy, a company that serviced generators for the county, after the owners refused to make a campaign donation.

"We stopped giving them work," Walton said during his testimony. "That's just like a murderer, you know."

The defense immediately asked for a mistrial.

"The state's star witness, I assume they have spent days if not weeks prepping, has equated Mr. Ellis to I think his quote was 'like a murderer' and it is absolutely prejudicial, it is outrageous," said Craig Gillen, one of Ellis' attorneys.

The judge struck the comment from the record, but refused to declare a mistrial.

Testimony continued Wednesday afternoon with jurors hearing more secretly-recorded conversations between Walton and Ellis.

"You know what's amazing, he does business with us and he was asking me why should he give to my political campaign," Ellis is heard saying in reference to a contractor, who refused to make a donation. "I don't understand why we'd continue doing business with these people."

Ellis' attorneys have said the CEO's did not link his request for political donations to county contracts.

"What was the reason not to give them (a contractor) any more work," prosecutor LaWanda Hodges asked Walton. "Because they didn't give a campaign contribution."

Walton returns to the stand to continue his testimony on Thursday.

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