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Man convicted of killing that began as quarrel over cell phone

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 12:20 pm

An Allen County Superior Court jury deliberated for two hours Wednesday before convicting A C James Jr. of murder, aggravated battery, and criminal recklessness.

According to court documents, a lost cell phone was the trigger for a quarrel among four men that led to the shooting death of Kyree Ellis on Feb. 3, 2012 – and the criminal charges against James.

Investigators said that on that date, James met with Ellis and two other men in the parking lot of a gas station at Hanna Street and Paulding Road, where the four allegedly got into a dispute over a Motorola flip phone that had been left at the gas station earlier in the day and somehow wound up in the possession of Ellis and the two other men.

James allegedly contacted the men and requested the return of the phone, agreeing to meet them at the gas station. However, one of the men reportedly requested a "finder's fee" from James for the phone's return, prompting an argument. The three men then drove away with the phone, according to the probable-cause affidavit.

James followed, and the affidavit said the driver of the vehicle containing the three men increased his speed and attempted to keep James from pulling alongside their vehicle. As the vehicles approached the intersection of Paulding and Lafayette Street, the sound of a gunshot was reportedly heard and Ellis, who was in the back seat of the vehicle containing the three men, reportedly said, "I'm hit."

One of the men said he turned around and saw Ellis bleeding and then become unresponsive; the other two men then took the vehicle near the intersection of Smith Street and McKinnie Avenue, where the woman who is registered as the owner of the vehicle took Ellis to a hospital, where he later died.

Police identified James as a suspect by using surveillance video.

James' sentencing in Allen Superior Court is scheduled March 8.