21-year-old Sarasota man charged with second-degree murder following incident in county jail

Zachary Ellis had been booked into detention center about an hour earlier

 A 21-year-old Sarasota resident confined to the Sarasota County Jail has been charged with second-degree murder following the death of another inmate, which occurred on April 16, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has reported.

The agency’s Criminal Investigations Section (CIS) and the 12th District Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the incident, the Sheriff’s Office reported on April 17. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending next of kin notification and Marsy’s Law, the release pointed out.

The suspect, Zachary King Ellis, of 2625 47th St., was being held on an unrelated domestic violence charge, the release noted.

The Probable Cause Affidavit says that about 3:39 a.m. on April 16, a Corrections Division deputy “was conducting rounds” on the third floor of the West Wing of the Jail when he arrived at Room No. 7 and observed Ellis “hovering over another inmate …” The deputy “immediately noticed Ellis covered in blood,” the affidavit continues, with the other inmate “lying unresponsive, and the walls covered in blood.”

The affidavit adds that Ellis was removed from the room, “and life saving measures were attempted to revive [the victim],” but those were unsuccessful.

The other inmate had “significant wounds to his face and head, including a laceration along his jaw line, exposing bone,” the affidavit continues. “In addition,” it says, “there was extensive blood spatter on the walls behind [the victim] as well as on the ceiling. Ellis’ clothing, arms, hands, and face were covered in blood, and  his right hand was red and swollen.”

Ellis was charged on April 16 with one count of Domestic Battery with bodily harm, following an incident that occurred at 1 a.m. the same day, according to his Probable Cause Affidavit in that case. He was arrested 45 minutes later and booked into the jail at 2:26 a.m. on April 16, the affidavit notes.

The victim in that case also was not identified, but the affidavit says the incident occurred at a single-family residence. The portion of the affidavit calling for the type of weapon used notes, “Hands/Fists/Feet.”

When officers arrived at the home, the affidavit explains, they found Ellis, “who showed signs of being intoxicated. Initially,” it continues, “Ellis acted as if nothing had happened. Ellis advised that he had approximately twelve Miller Lite beers and was unable to clearly articulate anything.”
Therefore, the affidavit adds, the responding officers did not read him is Miranda rights or question him.

“Ellis had no physical injuries,” the affidavit says.

The victim told the officers that Ellis “intentionally pushed her down into the couch in the living room causing injury to her,” according to the affidavit. One of the officers wrote that he observed a scrape just below the elbow of her right forearm, which the victim attributed to Ellis’ actions.

Further, the victim reported that “Ellis was out of control and pushed her without warning,” the affidavit says. She wanted to press charges against him, the affidavit adds.

The jail record for Ellis in regard to the Domestic Battery case says he was being held under $25,000 bond, with an arraignment set for May 8. His booking record notes that he told officers he works in concrete.

Prior charges

A News Leader review of 12tj Judicial Circuit Court records this week found that Ellis has faced multiple charges since November 2020, a number of which were traffic violations: Unlawful Speed, Failure to Display Registration, and failure to use a seatbelt.

However, in August 2022, he was charged in another battery/domestic violence case.

In that incident, the Probable Cause Affidavit says, the victim told officers that she had been in a physical confrontation and that she had locked herself in her room.

Officers talked with Ellis and his identical twin, Lonnie Ellis, the affidavit notes. The men were outside the house when the officers arrived, the affidavit adds. The deputy who wrote the narrative said he observed “multiple beer cans” near them and that they still were drinking beer while the officers were on the scene.

The victim explained that the altercation began when “she heard Zachary and Lonnie yelling at [another person] in the hallway of the house.” The situation escalated after that person told the brothers “they were not going to yell at her,” the affidavit continues.

The brothers ended up attacking her, the victim said, grabbing her by her left arm, which left a scratch near her bicep, the affidavit adds.

Then, she reported, they yelled at her and threatened her life “while they were chasing her around the house.” She reported that she believed they “would have killed her,” if not for the presence of a 61-year-old woman in the house.

During a continuation of the altercation in her bedroom, the victim said, “she lost a nail and received a scratch on her left ankle,” both of which injuries the deputy who wrote the narrative noted that he had seen, the affidavit points out.

In the narrative, the officer also wrote that, after his arrest, “Zachary stated when he gets angry he loses control and will black out forgetting parts of the incident.”

That case ended with the State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial Circuit declining to pursue the charges, court records show. That document was dated Sept. 19 2022.