A convicted murderer sentenced to life for a 2012 slaying is asking for a new trial nearly four years after he missed the deadline.
Kyllan James Ellis, 34, was sentenced in July 2018 for the murder of Simone Sanderson, 23, who was strangled and stabbed before being left in a vacant Main Street lot on Aug. 26, 2012.
The Indigenous woman’s body was covered with cardboard and leaves and concealed from public view until the remains were found six days later. Winnipeg police arrested Ellis in April 2016.
Court heard at the time of his conviction Ellis and the victim didn’t know each other and got into an altercation over a set of keys.
Ellis, a diagnosed schizophrenic serving his time in Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre, has argued in a recent sworn affidavit his mental illness prevented him from understanding his arrest, prosecution in the Court of Queen’s Bench and the rules for filing an appeal.
He’s asking the Court of Appeal to waive its 30-day window to file an appeal after sentencing, saying he’s been wrongfully convicted.
"A reason why I did not file and serve the notice of appeal… within the time… was due to my mental health, and not knowing I could do so," says the four-page affidavit filed in April.
Ellis raised concerns about police conduct during their investigation in his rambling, handwritten sworn document, and claimed a lawyer came to believe he had been wrongfully arrested.
"Before and during the trial period, my mental health had (deteriorated) to the point of little to no competence," he wrote.
However, his health has only improved over the past two-plus years and only now has he begun to understand what happened at trial, Ellis wrote.
During sentencing, Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin said there was no evidence Ellis’s schizophrenia played a role in the slaying.
Provincial prosecutors want his request for time to file an appeal to be denied by the court.
In written filings, Crown attorney Melissa Carlson argued Ellis’s claims are unclear and unsupported by evidence other than his own assertions.
"He has failed to establish any validity to them and his request for an extension of time should be denied," Carlson wrote in documents filed in late April.
She noted Ellis’s claims have twice been reviewed by Manitoba Legal Aid, which determined his grounds of appeal lacked merit.
Ellis filed documents to the court showing his request for appeal funding was denied by Legal Aid, which was later upheld in a review of that denial.
A scheduled July 7 hearing will determine if the appeal court can appoint a lawyer on Ellis’s behalf.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.