Jury: York City man murdered Exxon clerk during botched robbery
Eight months after one jury deadlocked on whether Mark Anthony Ellis is guilty of murdering Exxon store clerk Aditya "Sunny" Anand during a botched robbery, a second jury had no trouble reaching a verdict.
Jurors took just a little more than an hour on Thursday, Nov. 14, to find Ellis guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery. Presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness immediately sentenced Ellis to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"(Ellis) came out with glasses on again," chief deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy said after the verdict and sentencing.
Ellis wore eyeglasses during his first trial too, but this time Murphy was prepared.
The prosecutor said he presented medical evidence to the jury that proved Ellis had no prescription for glasses and didn't need to wear them.
At Murphy's request, the judge then ordered Ellis to remove his glasses while jurors watched surveillance video of the botched robbery and fatal shooting, according to Murphy.
"My argument to the jury was that he was wearing (glasses) to fool them," Murphy said.
Defense attorney Korey Leslie declined comment Thursday afternoon.
The background: A mistrial was declared in Ellis' first murder trial on Jan. 11, after jurors announced they could not reach a unanimous agreement after 4½ hours of deliberation.
Ellis, 31, who lived in York City but who also has ties to Baltimore, fatally shot Anand, 44, at the Exxon station on the corner of West Market Street and South Richland Avenue in York City shortly after 5:30 a.m. Oct. 17, 2017.
Jurors for Ellis' retrial watched surveillance footage of the homicide. In it, the killer — wearing an Adidas baseball cap and with his hood up — walked into the store, approached the counter and spoke to Anand.
In response, Anand grabbed two boxes of Newport 100s, put them on the counter and began to ring them up. Trial testimony revealed that's Ellis' preferred brand of cigarettes.
As Anand was working the cash register, Ellis pulled out a pistol and fired a warning shot over Anand's shoulder, clearly rattling the clerk, who then seemed unable to open the register. There is no audio.
Victim tried to run: Anand tried to dart out a side employee door that was behind the counter and right next to where he was standing, the video showed, which is when Ellis shot Anand.
The victim ran out of the building and collapsed a few feet away from it. Ellis then fled the scene, heading up Mason Avenue, a city alley behind St. Rose of Lima Church, testimony revealed. At trial, jurors learned that was the route Ellis and one of his girlfriends used to walk to and from the Exxon from their home.
Jurors didn't hear about the armed robbery Ellis and an accomplice committed in December 2014 at the American Mart on East Philadelphia Street. Ellis obtained Newport 100s during that robbery, according to court records.
That old robbery case was inadmissible because too much time had passed between robberies and because it lacked a distinct criminal signature that could be linked to Ellis, court records state.
Leslie has argued that there is no forensic evidence that definitively ties Ellis to the homicide. Police didn't find his fingerprints or DNA at the scene, and the gun used to kill Anand has never been found.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.