Ellis Wayne Felker
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Ellis Wayne Felker (c. 1948 – November 15, 1996) was convicted and executed for murder.
Felker was convicted for aggravated sodomy in 1977 and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment, but was paroled after four.
Ellis Wayne Felker was convicted and executed for the 1981 disappearance and murder of a Georgia woman, Evelyn Joy Ludlam. Ludlam was working her way through college as a cocktail waitress. Felker invited her to meet with him under the pretense of a job opportunity at his leather shop, which Joy Ludlam was attracted to because of the contradiction between her job and her religious beliefs. He was put under police surveillance for 2 weeks (because, when Ludlam's car was found abandoned in Warner Robins, there was a datebook with an entry mentioning a meeting with Felker later in the day after her last sighting), during which time Ludlam's body was found in a creek, raped, and murdered by asphyxiation.
An autopsy performed determined that Ludlam had been dead for 5 days when found. This finding would eliminate Felker as a suspect due to his surveillance, however the findings were changed. Later study of the autopsy notes by independent analysis showed that Ludlam had been dead no more than 3 days when found. However, since Ludlam's body was found in running water in late autumn, the exact time of death was difficult to determine. Dr Whitaker testified for the state that the air temperature, the state of decomposition, the fact that Ludham had been found wearing the same clothes as when she was last seen, and the fact that missing and murdered persons die soon after they disappear would suggest that Ludham had died 2 weeks before her body was found.
In September 1996, as a result of an Open Records Act lawsuit, Felker's attorneys received boxes of evidence that had been unlawfully withheld by the prosecution (although Felker's Brady claims arising from this evidence were rejected). This evidence included possible DNA samples of the perpetrator, a witness statement to having seen Ludham after Felker claimed to have last seen her (although the witness did identify Felker as being with the victim at that time) and a signed confession made in 1988 by another suspect who was mentally retarded and contained numerous discrepancies. For example, describing Ludham as a security guard rather than a cocktail waitress, and claiming to have stabbed rather than strangled Ludham. The District Attorney in charge denied under oath that such evidence existed and the presiding judge at one of Felker's hearings stated that Felker's right to a fair trial had been severely compromised.
Despite doubts of his guilt, the Supreme Court of Georgia refused to order a new trial or even grant a stay long enough to sort through the mountains of paperwork in the case that had been withheld allowing the defense time to investigate the case further for possible exoneration. This was because he had been on death row for some time and had not appealed any of the evidence until a death warrant was issued.
Felker was originally scheduled to be executed in May 1996, but a stay was granted and the execution was delayed during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta and he was eventually executed on November 15, 1996 at the age of 48.
Ellis Wayne Felker was put to death by electrocution in Georgia's electric chair at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, GA. The previous night, when fellow death row inmate Larry Grant Lonchar was executed for three murders, Felker had requested to be able to videotape Lonchar's execution to prove that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment. The next time an execution would be videotaped would be that of Andrew Grant DeYoung on July 21, 2011.
In 2000, a Georgia judge ruled that DNA testing would be performed in the first-ever attempt by a court to exonerate an executed person in the United States. The results were ruled as inconclusive; however this finding alone would not have been enough to grant a new trial, or exoneration and release.
- Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 655 (1996)