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Tajh Ross Trial: Day 7
Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 07:46 AM CDT
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Yet another co-defendant testifies in court in the murder trial of Tahj Ross. Ross is accused of shooting 19-year-old Latasha Roundtree as she was on her way to a party.
But eye-witnesses in the case say Ross wasn't the only man who fired a gun that night. That man took the stand Wednesday.
Shackled at his ankles, sporting an orange jumpsuit and glasses, Jeremiah Ellis tells his side of the story.
Ellis: Once everybody started to go across the street toward my house, I heard the first gunshot.
Ellis is 20 years old. He’s a tattoo artist, although he admits he has no formal training. He was on probation at the time of the shooting.
He's been convicted of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, and accessory after the fact.
Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks: In total, how many years will you be serving.
Ellis: 27 years.
Ellis lived at the home on 649 16th avenue with his cousin. Much like the co-defendants before him, he claims that Ross armed himself with a .40 caliber pistol that night when threats of a green car shooting up the house arose.
That car passed, and drove away. Then along came the white car with Latasha.
Ellis, who was armed with a revolver, says when he heard the shots he ducked, and then started firing.
Maybanks: What did you see as you looked up and fired twice?
Ellis: I saw the clown outfit. It was Tajh Ross. He was crouched down, almost in motion, ready to run
Maybanks: What did you see in his hand?
Ellis: The .40 caliber handgun.
Ellis says it wasn't until later that he found out what happened.
Maybanks: Who did you learn had been shot?
Ellis: Tasha Roundtree.
Maybanks: Was Ms. Roundtree the person you expected to be in the vehicle that night?
Ellis says soon after, he left Cedar Rapids and moved to Rockford, Illinois, but investigators caught up with him. Much like the other defendants, he admits he didn't tell the truth initially.
Maybanks: Is there such a term that's used sometimes in circumstances like this - 'a snitch'?
Maybanks: Is that something you were concerned about?
But Ellis says he did it to protect himself - and his family.
Public Defender Doug Davis: Do you know what kind of threats you received?
Ellis: People said they was going to kill me. They had money to pay people...whoever would kill me.
The trial is set to resume Thursday morning at 9am. Follow us on twitter all next week at https://twitter.com/cbs2iowa or https://twitter.com/JasonHackett2 for updates directly from the courtroom.