At 1:44 pm on the third day of Tobias Williams murder trial District Judge C. Anthony Eaves finished giving the jury instructions and they were released to select a foreman and deliberate.
The bailiff heard a knock on the jury room door at 2:02 pm at which time he was notified that the jury had reached a verdict.
Court was called back in session and the jury returned to give the verdict.
Kathy Bennett was selected as Jury Foreman and informed Judge Eaves they had reached a unanimous decision.
By a vote of 12-0 Tobias Williams was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder for his part in the death of CPT Jonathan Ellis.
Additionally, by a vote of 12-0 Williams was also found guilty of obstruction of justice.
On day three of the Tobias Williams murder trial the jury heard from forensic anthropologist Dr. Ginesse Listi of LSU FACES in Shreveport.
Her team was called in to search several areas where Williams said he burned then dumped CPT Jonathan Ellis’s remains.
Listi told the jurors how she used her hands to dig through surface mud located at two different ponds on the East Hawthorne Road property where Williams lived with his girlfriend Dominecia Smith and his children.
Listi collected all hard material she found that could not be ruled out as human and transported them to her lab for analysis.
Listi and her team were able to recover human bones from a burn pile, a drainage ditch and scattered in a wooded area.
Over a period of several days, the areas were searched and more than 260 pieces of bone collected that was extremely fragmented. In an effort to identify the remains and the cause of death Listi tried to reconstruct the bones.
Listi was able to identify skull fragments, upper and lower jaw fragments along with three teeth with the roots still intact and one broken tooth.
She was also able to identify fragments of the shoulder blades, collar bones and ribs. Several hand and finger bones were found many with minimal burn marks.
Bones from a left hand were found scattered in the woods that also showed signs of animal chew marks.
Once the bones were assembled Listi was unable to determine the sex of the victim or the height and ethnicity.
The only thing she was able to identify was the victim was an adult over the age of 18 because the roots on the teeth were completely developed.
She found that most of the bones had minimal charring on them indicating they were placed in the fire with flesh still intact.
Listi also found the left shoulder blade was found in two separate fragments. The largest fragment recovered did not show any signs of charring or burning whereas the smaller fragment had significant burning.
This indicated to Listi that the shoulder blade may have been physically separated by mechanical means and placed in the fire with the flesh still intact. Listi surmised that one part of the bone burned longer than the other.
The jury also heard from Taylor Parnell, a forensic scientist and DNA Analyst with the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
Parnell explained to the jury how she extracts DNA from samples and compares them with profiles in the FBI Combined DNA Index System,CODIS, database.
Parnell testified that her initial profile that was extracted from the bone fragments she received resulted in no match in CODIS.
It wasn’t until two years later after the U.S. Army provided a blood card for CPT Ellis to her lab for testing.
Parnell said that after she tested the sample on the blood card she had a DNA match of ten locus or markers. Only seven are required in her lab to make a positive identification.
Vernon Parish Sheriff Office Detective David Vance then took the witness stand and testified.
Vance said that VPSO was first contacted by Army Criminal Investigation Division, CID, at Fort Polk on September 23, 2016 to notify them of a missing soldier.
Vance was told that Ellis was last seen by his family on September 19 and an investigation revealed that Ellis’s phone was still being used.
CID agents called one of the numbers that were called in the days after Ellis was last seen and made contact with Gary Gordon.
Gary Gordon was the estranged husband of Wanda Gordon. She called her husband to give him her number phone number, Ellis’s number, setting the course for the VPSO investigation.
The longtime girlfriend of Williams gave testimony on day two of the trial. She testified that she was a witness to the murder.
It was revealed that Williams and Gordon had planned to rob Ellis who was a frequent “trick” of Gordon’s.
The three of them arrived at Williams’ home and Williams went inside the house where he told Smith that “We are about to rob this dude”.
Smith asked Williams why they were going to rob him and Williams replied, “I need to get money somehow”.
Williams then went back outside and Smith continued to watch from a window inside the house.
Smith testified that she saw Ellis facing Gordon in the front of the truck and as he turned his back to her, Gordon pulled a gun and shot Ellis in the back of the head.
Smith then said that once Ellis was on the ground Williams and Gordon rifled through his pockets taking a bottle of pills and whatever else they could.
Williams and Gordon then drug Ellis to a burn pile a short distance away and he burned his body.
In the final interview VPSO conducted with Williams on November 17, 2016, on several occasions, Williams compares the state of Ellis’s burned body to bar-b-que and as a rack of ribs.
In this same interview, Williams tells Det. Vance that he used a splitting maul and smashed the bones on several occasions to eliminate as much of them as possible.
Williams will be sentenced on April 16, 2019 at 9:00 am.