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W.Va. man found guilty of carjacking attempt

December 08, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man could face up to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of an attempted carjacking outside a Martinsburg apartment complex last January, officials said.

Lynis Nathaniel Ellerbe, 20, was found guilty Friday of aggravated robbery, attempted kidnapping and wanton endangerment with a firearm, said Berkeley County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Groh.

The jury's decision came after a three-day trial that began Dec. 1 in Berkeley County Circuit Court, said Groh.

An earlier trial for Ellerbe on the same charges ended in a mistrial in August after a judge ruled a conflict of interest existed between Ellerbe's former attorney and some of the witnesses in the case, said Groh.

West Virginia State Police charged Ellerbe with being one of three men who tried to rob Rahill Nawaz II of Martinsburg in the parking lot of Berkeley Gardens Apartments. Nawaz told police he was going to his Toyota 4-Runner when a man stuck a .22-caliber handgun in his back.

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Nawaz reached around and grabbed the barrel of the gun and fought with the man, police said. The gunman repeatedly pulled the trigger but the weapon did not fire, according to police.

Ellerbe and Gary Colbert, 19, were charged in the incident. A Berkeley County jury acquitted Colbert of kidnapping and robbery charges on Nov. 10, Groh said.

The identity of the third suspect was never determined by police, Groh said.

Groh said a sentencing hearing for Ellerbe is set for Feb. 8, 1999, and Groh said Ellerbe could face anywhere from eight years to life in prison.

Groh said a pre-sentence report by the Berkeley County Probation Department is due within 60 days.

Groh would not comment on her recommendations for sentencing, but said she would like to see Ellerbe, who is being held in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, given more than the minimum.

"We will not be asking for any leniency from the court," Groh said.

Groh added she hoped Ellerbe's guilty verdict gave relief to Nawaz and his family.

"I'm glad it's finally provided some closure for them," Groh said.

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