Walmart workers testify in Ellis trial in Kennett

Friday, November 20, 2009

KENNETT, Mo. -- The Heather Ellis trial resumed Thursday, with the jury hearing testimonies from 12 different individuals.

Ellis, a 24-year-old Louisiana schoolteacher, is accused of four charges, two of assault to an officer of the law, one resisting arrest, and one peace disturbance, in connection with an incident that occurred at Walmart on Jan. 6, 2007.

Betsy Walls, the store cashier involved with the incident, was first to testify on behalf of the state, represented by Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle. Walls noted in her testimony that Ellis arrived on the scene pushing another customer's items back on the conveyer belt to make room for her own items ahead of the customer's.

Walls also noted that she attempted to continue doing her job of running the cashier while waiting for management and security to handle Ellis, who reportedly became "belligerent," and "out of control."

In response to Walls' statement, defense attorney Scott Rosenblum asked if at any point the cashier tried to resolve the issue by asking others what had occurred, to which Walls replied, "No."

The second testimony of the day came from another Walmart employee, assistant manager Kay McDaniel.

McDaniel explained in her testimony that when she arrived on the scene Ellis was upset. She noted that she asked Ellis to move to the back of the line, or to exit the store. The defense asked McDaniel if she at any time tried to correct the problems or listen to Ellis' side of the story, to which McDaniel replied, "No."

Others providing testimonies during the day included Walmart employees Loretta Cunningham, Linda Maddox, Robin Flood, former Kennett police officer Al Fisher, Sgt. Joe Stewart of the Kennett Police Department, officer Phillip Caldwell of the Kennett Police Department, officer Alan Campbell of the Kennett Police Department, Cpl. Craig Moody of the Kennett Police Department, witness Brandon Elliott and witness Ashley Elliott.

The defense worked to disprove credibility of the witnesses by asking each witness to inform the jury that they had met as a group several times with Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff.

Also during the trial, the jury was able to review a surveillance tape provided by Walmart that the prosecution noted clearly shows Ellis pushing another customer's merchandise back.

The trial was set to resume at 9 a.m. today at the Dunklin County Courthouse.

Surveillance video from the night of the incident

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