A former Marine charged with hiring a California hit man to kill his father was released yesterday on $200,000 bail, one day after family and friends testified at his bail review hearing that he was a good soldier and family man.
Charles Edward Ellis Jr., 21, of the 5500 block of Sagra Road in Northeast Baltimore, was charged Friday with first-degree murder and a handgun violation. He is suspected of paying a hit man several thousand dollars to come to Baltimore to kill his father, Charles Edward Ellis Sr., 42, of the same address, police said.
Police say the motive apparently was the younger Ellis' anger toward his father for failure to repay an $8,000 loan from the son to help buy a tractor-trailer, homicide detectives said. Charles Ellis Sr. had been a truck driver.
Charles Ellis Jr. had been stationed at the Camp Pendleton Marine base in California for four years and was honorably discharged on May 26. His father was gunned down on May 31, the day the younger Ellis returned to his hometown of Baltimore.
Homicide detectives said yesterday that the younger Ellis and another, unidentified man lured Charles Ellis Sr. out of his house with a phone call. The other man shot Mr. Ellis in the right side at an unidentified location in Baltimore, but the elder Ellis was able to get into his car and drive off, police said.
Witnesses reported seeing Charles Ellis Sr. being chased on Loch Raven Boulevard by another car occupied by two men, police said. The chase ended on a parking lot at Good Samaritan Hospital, where Charles Ellis Sr. was fatally shot in the head with a shotgun, police said.
The gunman is believed to have returned to California, and his identity is unknown, police said.
The younger Ellis had been held at the Baltimore City Detention Center on no bail, but District Court Judge John M. Glynn granted him the $200,000 bail on Monday after hearing from several supporters at a bail review hearing.
Among those who offered praise and backing for Charles Ellis Jr. were his neighbors, his girlfriend, the minister of his church and his former sergeant in the Marines who came to Baltimore from North Carolina.
Also testifying was Charles Ellis Jr.'s mother, who said that she didn't believe her son had anything to do with her husband's death, according to court records.
Judge Glynn cited other factors in his decision to grant bail -- the suspect's lack of a criminal record, his strong ties to Baltimore and the fact that he did not attempt to flee while the slaying was being investigated.
The judge also said that no assistant state's attorney was present to give an account of the case evidence at the hearing, which was handled by a state pretrial services official.
Another consideration was that detectives' key evidence in the case came from an unnamed source who was not identified in court charging papers, Judge Glynn said.