LOCKPORT – Monique Russell, who told police, a grand jury and a prosecutor that she saw Javon J. Ellison Sr. shoot her boyfriend in Niagara Falls last year, at first denied it on the witness stand at Ellison’s trial Tuesday, then waffled on the issue.
Defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova, who said in court before the trial that he thought Ellison should plead guilty, introduced a handwritten affidavit by Russell, signed Dec. 30, which declared that Ellison “is not doing time for a crime he did not commit.”
The paper apparently was suggested by the shooting victim, Jermaine V. Lowe Jr., who is the father of one of Russell’s three children.
Russell was the leadoff witness called by Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann, who quickly had Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon declare Russell a hostile witness.
Ellison, 25, is charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the June 4 shooting of Lowe at 11th Street and Ontario Avenue. Russell had told police and a grand jury that she saw Ellison, whom she had known since high school, driving a white car that flashed its headlights at her as she drove with Lowe shortly before midnight. Lowe exited the car, had words with the other man, and was shot once in the stomach by a gun fired from inside the white car.
“Judge, Ms. Russell has previously testified differently than what she’s saying now,” Hoffmann said after Russell told the jury she didn’t know who was driving the white car.
Hoffmann told the judge outside the presence of the jury, “She expressed to me earlier that she’s afraid to be here.”
The prosecutor served up a nearly 3-minute recording of a 911 call Russell made after the shooting, in which she screamed, “I know who did it. … Javon Ellison shot him.”
“Why did you use the name Javon Ellison?” Terranova asked. “I don’t know,” Russell answered.
After a lengthy struggle between Hoffmann and the witness over the legitimacy of the Dec. 30 affidavit recanting her implication of Ellison, Terranova asked Russell, “What’s the truth? Did you see the shooter?”
“I don’t know,” Russell said.