published Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Trial begins Monday in Dade slaying

On Monday, a 19-year-old man from Sand Mountain will stand trial on charges of stabbing a Chattanooga man to death.

Johnathan Ellison and 27-year-old James Oglesby were charged with malice murder and two counts of felony murder in the death of Antwane Hyatte, who was found lying in a pool of blood outside Ellison’s rented home in Dade County, Ga., on March 16.

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit prosecutors asked for both men to be tried at the same time and to have separate juries, but Superior Court Judge Brian House dismissed the motion last week.

Defense attorneys argued combining the cases would violate the men’s right to a fair trial and impartial jury. Oglesby will be tried in the next Dade County Criminal Circuit session in April, officials said.

Police believe the stabbing was a result of a drug deal gone awry.

Ellison and Oglesby were at Ellison’s home when Hyatte showed up with his girlfriend, Dade County Sheriff Patrick Cannon said in March. After Hyatte went inside the house, his girlfriend thought she heard gunshots and called 911, Cannon said.

When police arrived, Hyatte was dead and Ellison and Oglesby had fled. But Ellison’s two children — a 9-month-old daughter and an 18-month-old son — were found screaming in the bedroom, authorities said.

When Ellison’s 21-year-old wife, Brittany, came home from buying diapers, she said, she saw emergency lights clustered around her house and her children were gone.

Ellison and Oglesby were found at a house in Whitfield County the next day and arrested on charges of murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Brittany Ellison, who’s been married to Ellison for two years, said she has been living a nightmare since that day.

She said she goes to visit her children, who were placed in a Summerville, Ga., foster home, and visits her husband in jail, just waiting for something to change.

“My life is visitations,” she said. “It’s miserable.”

Still fighting for custody of her children, she said she hopes the courts will rule in her favor. She also must wait to find out this week what happens to her husband.

“I’m tired of not knowing,” she said. “I need to know what’s happening with him.”

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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