Jury in wrongful death case to return Friday

Posted at: 03/14/2013 5:53 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

State District Court Judge Shannon Bacon has handed over a wrongful death suit against the city of Albuquerque to jurors. They left Thursday night after four hours of deliberation and will return Friday morning to continue working toward a verdict.

The case concerns the 2010 shooting death of Iraq war veteran Kenneth Ellis III by APD officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba, and will determine how much money in damages his 7-year-old son will receive.

Thursday morning began with intense, emotional pleas from attorneys for both sides. Attorneys for Ellis began with an emotional appeal to the jury, arguing that their decision could prevent future tragedies.

"This punishment is not just for Little Kenneth,” attorney Shannon Kennedy said. “It's also for the sons and daughters that could also lose a parent because a police officer thinks he doesn't have enough time."

The weight of a father’s love wasn’t lost on city attorneys, but they argued it wasn’t the sole indicator of what his life was worth.

"Kenneth Ellis had to love his son, and Lord knows that child loved his dad,” attorney Kathy Levy said. “But who was Kenneth Ellis? Who was the man?"

She referenced the toll post traumatic stress disorder took on the Iraq war veteran, mentioning his employment struggles and drug troubles.

In their rebuttal, Ellis family attorneys maintained that this case will set a standard, and asked jurors to consider punishing Lampiris-Tremba to make him an example for other officers.

"There have been very important cases that have shaped this country, shaped this law, shaped this community and I proffer to you, that this is one of those cases,” attorney Frances Carpenter said. “This is that case."

Jurors will return Friday morning to determine how much to award in damages, how responsible the city or APD may be for the shooting, and whether Lampiris-Tremba was “willing and reckless.”