COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A man convicted of running over a northern Idaho woman during a 2006 road rage confrontation has been given a reduced prison sentence.
Jonathan W. Ellington was ordered Monday to serve up to 18 years in prison for second-degree murder.
Ellington had previously been sentenced to 25 years for the death of Vonette Lee Larsen in the New Year’s Day encounter on a Kootenai County highway. But the Idaho Supreme Court cited prosecutorial misconduct when throwing out that conviction last May, ordering a new trial.
Ellington was convicted a second time in January, though he may spend only two more years in prison.
First District Judge John Luster sentenced Ellington to serve a minimum of 8 years, though he will be given credit for the 6 years he has already served.
In his January trial, a jury found Ellington deliberately ran over and killed 41-year-old Larsen with his Chevrolet Blazer and rammed a car occupied by two of her daughters.
Ellington’s public defender said Joel and Vonette Larsen and their two daughters “hunted” Ellington, leading to the confrontation and that Vonette Larsen’s death was an accident that happened during a chaotic situation.
Joel Larsen acknowledged shooting at Ellington’s SUV before Vonette Larsen was run over.
The judge said “poor decisions” were made by all the parties involved in the incident.
“I’ll never be able to make sense of the behaviors of that day,” Luster said.
Luster also said the Larsens clearly share in the blame, and that they wrongly denied partial responsibility for Vonette Larsen’s death. Still, he said, he was not there to judge the Larsen family, only Ellington.
The judge called Ellington a “disaster waiting to happen,” and noted his history of assault convictions and substance abuse.
“You engaged in conduct that cost a human life,” Luster said.
Ellington didn’t speak at the sentencing hearing, instead submitting a written statement to the judge.
One of his defense attorneys, Anne Taylor, told the judge that Ellington feels remorse and has worked to change himself for the better, finding religion and reconnecting with his family.
But Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen said Ellington’s actions were by his own choice, and said the defendant wasn’t taking responsibility.