Crime

Jury gets murder trial of man who shot the woman who left him. He says it was self-defense

Joshua Ellis arraigned in the killing of Wendi Traynor in Milton

Joshua Ellis appears at arraignment Nov. 14, 2017, on charges that he killed 25-year-old Wendi Traynor, who he had dated.
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Joshua Ellis appears at arraignment Nov. 14, 2017, on charges that he killed 25-year-old Wendi Traynor, who he had dated.

Joshua Kioni Ellis shot and killed a woman he’d had a romantic relationship with, a month after she left their Kentucky home.

Ellis says he shot 25-year-old Wendi Traynor in self-defense.

Prosecutors argue it was premeditated murder.

Now the case is in the hands of Pierce County Superior Court jurors, who started deliberations Monday afternoon and continued Tuesday.

In their closing arguments, attorneys seemed to agree that the Nov. 3, 2017 shooting happened as part of a break-up in a troubled relationship.

Deputy prosecutor John Neeb said Ellis, 28, shot Traynor as she had her purse on her shoulder and her hand on her wallet near the door of her new apartment in Milton.

Defense attorney James Bible argued that Ellis was the one trying to leave the apartment and that he shot Traynor as she was pulling a gun.

Neeb told the jury that Traynor had driven across the country, found the new apartment and had been looking for a job and reconnecting with friends and family.

“She had moved on,” Neeb said in his closing argument.

Ellis called her repeatedly after she left and ultimately followed her, the prosecutor said.

He argued the physical evidence doesn’t support Ellis’ account of self-defense.

The gunshot wound was to her head, behind her ears, the prosecutor said.

“Wendi Traynor never saw that gunshot coming,” Neeb told jurors.

Bible said his client had to make a split-second decision and that Traynor had threatened him before.

“Joshua Ellis had every reason to believe that she was going to shoot him,” he said.

The couple met in Washington and later moved to Kentucky, where Ellis had family.

Traynor showed signs of depression there, Bible said, and ultimately moved back.

Ellis followed her to the Milton apartment but decided things weren’t working and that he needed to return to Kentucky, the attorney said.

He started packing while she was away at a job interview, Bible said, and left a note to say that he was leaving and that he loved her.

She came home to find him in the process of moving, they talked and eventually she took her gun from her purse, Bible told the jury.

“She points it at him, and he knocks it to the ground,” he said.

Then Ellis went to leave the apartment and saw her with the gun again, the attorney said.

“He sees the gun in her pocket, and he sees her start to pull it,” Bible told jurors.

That’s when Ellis fired a shot and left before he knew where it had hit her, the attorney said.

Traynor’s family found her body in the apartment about a week later.

Ellis ultimately turned himself in, “knowing that he would be right here today,” Bible said.

Neeb pointed out that officers never found the farewell note Ellis said he wrote Traynor.

He said it didn’t make sense that Ellis would fear her, and he suggested Ellis put her gun in her pocket after he shot her.

“5 foot 2, 120-pound Wendi ... he wasn’t one tiny bit afraid of her,” Neeb said.

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