The trial of State v. Bryan Jeffrey Ellis took place this week in Lexington County General Sessions Court. Ellis, age 30, was found guilty of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – 1st degree and Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – 3rd degree. The jury deliberated less than one hour before delivering their verdict. Judge R. Knox McMahon imposed a life sentence on Ellis with a consecutive sentence of 15 years. Under state law, the life sentence means that Ellis will never be eligible for parole.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “The loss of innocence is something you can never get back and will not be tolerated in Lexington County. The sentence today sends a clear message. The hard work of law enforcement and our prosecutors, along with the bravery of the little girl, resulted in justice being served.” Hubbard further commented, “We will continue fighting for victims of abuse and give voices to the innocent children in our circuit.”
The child victim, in this case, was 7 years old when she was subjected to a series of assaults by Ellis. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation on January 24, 2016, after the child disclosed the abuse to a family member and a 911 call was placed. Later that afternoon, Sgt. Miles Rawl, a detective with the Sheriff’s Department, met with Ellis and advised him of his rights. Ellis then provided verbal and written statements admitting that he sexually assaulted the child on multiple occasions. The confession by Ellis, seven pages in length and authored in his own handwriting, was offered as evidence during the trial. Family members of the child also testified that Ellis admitted his actions to them when they confronted him.
The child victim, now age 9, testified during the trial and identified Ellis as the perpetrator of numerous assaults against her. Detective Mike Phipps provided expert testimony regarding his forensic analysis of a smart phone belonging to Bryan Ellis. Evidence recovered from the phone revealed that Ellis was using the device to research information on sex addiction less than two hours before giving his confession to law enforcement.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge McMahon spoke of the child victim’s stolen innocence and the actions of Ellis as a “predator.” He described the life sentence as a necessary measure to protect the community and ensure that Ellis will not harm additional victims in the future.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Assistant Solicitor La’Jessica Stringfellow of the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office. “We commend the work of Sgt. Miles Rawl and the Sheriff’s Department for their swift response and commitment in this case. The evidence obtained during the first 24 hours was absolutely crucial for the positive outcome in this investigation,” stated Mayes. Sgt. Rawl also served as lead investigator in the recent murder cases of Michael Sulier and Charles Morehouse in Lexington County. Sulier was convicted of murder in 2016 and received a life sentence. Morehouse was convicted of murder following a trial in January of 2017 and also sentenced to life.
Ellis is being transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin his sentence immediately.