‘You shot me’: Bond set for Elizabethton woman charged in murder of boyfriend

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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Cynthia J. Ellis, 69, was bound over to a Carter County grand jury on the charge of first-degree murder following a preliminary trial in Sessions Court on Monday. Ellis is charged in the Dec. 4 shooting death of her longtime boyfriend, Andrew Gilbertson.
Judge Keith Bowers Jr. ordered Ellis to be bound over to the grand jury after the hearing in which Assistant District Attorney William Monk was the prosecutor and Ellis was defended by Assistant Public Defender Melanie Sellers.
The court heard testimony from Andrew Parker, Ellis’ brother. Parker lived at the residence at 105 Countryside Drive along with his sister and Gilbertson. He was still in his bedroom at the time of the morning shooting. He testified that he heard the incident, a scuffle and the shots, but did not see it. He came out of his bedroom after the shots were fired and called 911. He then began administering aid to Gilbertson to stop the bleeding.
He described Gilbertson as a friend. “He was my favorite person,” Parker said on the witness stand. Monk played the 911 tape of Parker calling 911 after the shooting and reporting the incident. The groans and moans of the suffering Gilbertson are heard on the tape. While talking with 911, Parker rolled Gilbertson onto his back and used a towel to apply pressure to Gilbertson’s chest wounds to try to stop the bleeding.
Parker said that before he heard shots that he could hear Ellis and Gilbertson in an argument. He said he heard his sister shouting “get out of my way” several times as the voices came closer to the master bedroom. He said he then heard a “pop” and then heard Gilbertson say “you shot me.” Parker said he then heard another shot and then Gilbertson retreated down the hallway to the kitchen. Parker said he then got dressed and came out, where he found Gilbertson lying on the kitchen floor. Gilbertson died en route to the hospital.
Two investigators also testified: Brian Fraley, an agent of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Roger Brown of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, who was the lead investigator on the case.
Fraley spoke with Ellis after the incident. He said Ellis admitted to shooting Gilbertson with a .22-caliber revolver, which had four rounds in the five chambers of the barrel. He said two shots were fired in the bedroom and the third and final shot was fired in the kitchen. He said Ellis was cooperative.
Brown also testified he had talked with Ellis and that she told him he became angry when she contacted his mistress. She said she shot him in the groin and waist. She then shot him in the chest. Ellis also made a 911 call immediately after the shooting. Monk played it for Brown while he was on the witness stand. On the tape, Ellis can be heard. Her voice was trembling as she told the 911 operator that she had shot Gilbertson. When the operator asked where the gun was, Ellis said it was in her hand. The operator then instructed her to place the gun on a desk. She complied and Brown said that was where he found the weapon when he searched the house.
Following the testimony, Sellers told Bowers that the state has the burden to prove every element of first-degree murder and must show some evidence of premeditation. Sellers argued that Gilbertson had continued to block Ellis from leaving and there was a case for self-defense.
Sellers also asked the judge to consider a bond of $30,000. She said that would be a considerable sum for Ellis, who was living on a pension and Social Security. She said Ellis has owned property in Carter County for 17 years and has no criminal record in her 69 years.
Monk said the premeditation came before the third shot in the kitchen. He said that after the second shot, Gilbertson fled to the kitchen to call 911. There was nothing blocking Ellis from leaving and it would have been a shorter distance for her to walk out the front door than to continue on to the kitchen for the third shot.
“She could have turned right and gone out the front door,” Monk said. “Instead of leaving, she went into the kitchen.”
Monk said the gravity and nature of the case is an argument against a lower bond. Bowers ruled that there was probable cause for a first-degree murder charge. He set bond at $250,000 and ordered that if bond was posted that no firearms were to be allowed in the home.
Ellis is to report to Criminal Court on March 27.

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