US Supreme Court rejects Oklahoma appeal

Monday, October 20th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday rejected without comment Oklahoma's appeal of a ruling ordering a new trial for a schizophrenic man sentenced to death for killing three people in Oklahoma City in 1986.

In December, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the trial judge improperly excluded evidence that Cyril Wayne Ellis was insane.

A call to the Oklahoma attorney general's office was not immediately returned.

During Ellis' trial, defense lawyers tried to introduce a doctor's report diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia that had gone into remission. The trial judge refused to admit the report, saying it pertained only to Ellis' ability to stand trial, not his sanity at the time of the shootings.

The appeals court disagreed.

Days before the shootings, Ellis was admitted to a psychiatric ward when he tried to commit suicide after striking his fiancé, Cheryl James, in an argument, according to court documents. He left the ward against medical advice.

Later, he tried to buy a gun but ended up borrowing one from a store clerk when he did not have enough money, court documents said.

On Jan. 30, 1986, Ellis went to two houses and his workplace, Consolidated Freightways, killing James' sister and two supervisors, prosecutors said. He also was accused of wounding the sister's boyfriend, the sister's 6-year-old daughter and two other supervisors.