Elledge considers faith in final hours, friend says

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

WALLA WALLA — In one of his last conversations with an old friend, James Elledge confessed small crimes, was anxious about it but appeared resigned to die.

In a way, he also was looking forward to it.

"He wasn’t upbeat," said Bill Hubbard of Kansas City, Mo. "He was not necessarily happy about what was to come, but he seemed to be reflecting in the faith of God. That is distinctly different from before."

Hubbard, a former Lynnwood City Council member, was Elledge’s roommate for three months in 1997.

It was Hubbard who introduced Elledge to Eloise Fitzner at what was then called Lynnwood Free Methodist Church.

Elledge was waiting at the penitentiary here to be executed by lethal injection for the 1998 strangulation and stabbing death of Fitzner when he called Hubbard.

Hubbard had left his telephone number with the prison, wondering if Elledge would call him in his final days.

Elledge called him at home last week, confessing that $400 Hubbard once had lost had been taken by Elledge. At the time, Elledge had been a struggling ex-convict apparently trying to turn his life around after a murder conviction in King County.

The church family took him under its collective wing and tried to help Elledge.

In their conversation, Elledge told Hubbard he knows his death alone won’t make up for killing Fitzner. He also told him he recognizes his execution is a civil consequence of his actions.

In a telephone interview on the eve of Elledge’s scheduled execution, Hubbard said Elledge sees his own death as others might see a religious baptism. To him, he said, it’s like crossing a line and starting anew.

"I think Jim Elledge is ready to die, and his peace is a paradox of faith," Hubbard said.

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send e-mail to haley@heraldnet.com.

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