Originally created 08/07/99

One guilty, two freed in slaying



A jury Friday convicted the man whom John Lambright named as his killer before dying, but the jury acquitted two other men who also faced murder and kidnapping charges.

At the conclusion of a four-day trial in Richmond County Superior Court, Early Glenn, 40, was found guilty of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He then pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His prior felony -- a 1981 murder in East St. Louis, Ill.

While the jury rejected Mr. Glenn's contention the Feb. 3 shooting of Mr. Lambright was an accident, the jury decided Shontez Ellis, 24, and Robert Brooks Jr., 37, were not guilty of Mr. Lambright's murder.

The jury also acquitted all three men of kidnapping.

"Thank God for the law," Mr. Ellis' attorney, Richard Ingram, told the jury in his closing argument Thursday. Mere presence at a crime scene doesn't make a person guilty and Mr. Ellis had nothing to do with Mr. Lambright's death, Mr. Ingram said.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright argued to the jury that the three men held Mr. Lambright against his will and used him as a pawn to try to lure Mr. Lambright's thieving friend out on the streets.

They wanted revenge against the friend and when they couldn't get to him, they killed Mr. Lambright, 26, instead, she argued.

Mr. Glenn was the only one of three accused to testify. He admitted he shot Mr. Lambright at Vista Village Trailer Park on Old McDuffie Road. But he claimed it happened accidentally as the two men struggled over the gun. Mr. Lambright was shot three times.

Whatever happened between Mr. Glenn and Mr. Lambright did not involve Mr. Brooks, his defense attorney Hugh Hadden argued to the jury. Mr. Brooks had kept Mr. Glenn from tying Mr. Lambright up earlier on Feb. 3, the attorney said.

After the shooting Mr. Brooks got into an argument with Mr. Glenn for shooting Mr. Lambright and Mr. Ellis was crying, Mr. Hadden quoted a witness.

"Does that sound like a group that planned an execution-type murder?" Mr. Hadden asked.

Two others -- Shirley Wells, 42, and Tammy Cotton, 30 -- pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of false imprisonment and testified this week for the prosecution.

Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. sentenced each woman Friday to three years in prison followed by four years on probation.

Although Mr. Brooks was acquitted Friday, he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a crime punishable by a maximum five-year sentence. A sentencing date hasn't been set yet for him or Mr. Glenn. The death penalty will not be sought.

Sandy Hodson covers courts for The Augusta Chronicle. She may be reached at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com