ST. LOUIS • Circuit Judge Thomas C. Clark II said Friday that an 11-year-old’s willingness to testify at two murder trials in the 2016 killing of Brandon B.J. Ellington was “one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.”
Clark then sentenced Adonnis Smith, 24, to life without parole, the mandatory term for first-degree murder when prosecutors don’t seek the death penalty.
Ellington, 35, was shot twice in the head and died March 19, 2016, in the 3900 block of Lexington Avenue. A jury last month found Smith guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Clark gave Smith a concurrent 30-year term for armed criminal action. It was Smith’s second trial because a jury last July could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Brandon Ellington was fatally shot in St. Louis on March 19, 2016. (family photo)
The now-13-year-old girl who witnessed the killing testified at both trials that she was taking turns on roller skates with a friend, going up and down her block, when she saw Smith hop from a car and shoot Ellington, then bend down to pick up a bag of marijuana before spotting her and yelling, “Damn!” She was certain Smith was the shooter because he was the only one holding a gun; she said she had recognized Smith because he