Jailhouse conversation heard in Kingsburg murder case

FRESNO, Calif.

A judge decided that there is enough evidence against Kathryn Ellis for her to stand trial in the murder of her husband, Robert. Detectives say her story was filled with lies.

Ellis talked to her mother from jail several times. All the calls were recorded, and her mother was clearly aware of that. But prosecutors believe Ellis made one major slip.

In court, Kathryn Ellis shed tears and chose not to look at pictures of her husband entered as evidence. At the scene of the crime, Kathryn Ellis also cried as she talked to a 911 operator.

911 Operator: "Ok. Is he breathing right now, ma'am?"

Kathryn "Ellis: No. No. He's dead. I know he's dead."

But investigators say her claim that intruders came in the house and shot Robert Ellis came undone quickly. They say the tears had dried up and she was more concerned about herself.

DeWayne Chatman said in court, "Kathryn laid down, face down, with a blanket that her mother provided her and she kept sobbing and saying, 'what's going to happen to me? What's going to happen to me?'"

Prosecutors say Kathryn controlled the family's money and those finances were a mess. They declared bankruptcy in 1998, got deep in debt again by 2004, and borrowed money from family often. When Robert Ellis died, they had almost $30,000 in credit card debt as well as a mortgage.

Kathryn had recently tried to increase Robert's life insurance policies without his knowledge. Her attorney says none of the evidence proves Kathryn killed her husband, just that the family had financial stress.

But prosecutors pulled apart Ellis' story to detectives piece by piece, then played Ellis' own jailhouse conversation with her mother in which they discuss a possible conversation with Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Ellis' mother: "I'll say, 'You know you're letting all this scum out of here.' And I'd say, 'Can't you just let her come home? Can't you just, you know, put an ankle on her and put her on house arrest and let her come home?'"

Ellis: "I know. They've done that to some gals and it's like, 'Why can't you just do that to me?'"

Ellis: "I'm not a risk. I'm not a flight risk. I'm not."

Ellis' mother: "Right. I'm going to talk to Antonio."

Ellis: "I'm not a risk of doing anything again, so."

Ellis' mother cut her off a couple times in jailhouse conversations, saying "we're not gonna go there." Kathryn Ellis is due back in court next month.

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