'I know what you did,' Kyllan Ellis's mother says in recording played at murder trial

Kyllan Ellis was on Main Street days before Simone Sanderson's body was found in an empty lot at the corner of Main and Burrows Avenue on Sept. 2, 2012.

Kyllan Ellis is charged with 2nd-degree murder in Simone Sanderson's 2012 death

'I know what you did,' Kyllan Ellis's mother says in recording played at murder trial

5 years ago
Duration 1:19
Ellis is accused of second-degree murder in Simone Sanderson's death. He has pleaded not guilty.

The jury at Kyllan Ellis's trial for second-degree murder heard an audio recording on Wednesday of a conversation between Ellis and his mother in her home, and saw surveillance video showing him near the Winnipeg location where Simone Sanderson's body was found in 2012.

Ellis is accused of second-degree murder in Sanderson's death. He has pleaded not guilty.

Defence lawyer Mike Cook confirmed to the jury of five women and seven men in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench that the person captured on the surveillance video was his client.

Ellis can be seen in video from two separate cameras, which were mounted on two different buildings on Main Street, in the early hours of Aug. 27, 2012.

Sanderson was last seen on Aug. 26 and was reported missing. Her body was found in an empty lot at the corner of Main Street and Burrows Avenue on Sept. 2, 2012.

One of the cameras that recorded Ellis was on the building next to the lot where her body was found under a piece of cardboard.

Simone Sanderson was killed in Winnipeg at age 23. Her body was found on Sept. 2, 2012. (Family photo)

Winnipeg police Const. Terry Bambrick analyzed about four days' worth of surveillance video taken from five cameras on Main Street.

He testified he didn't see Sanderson in any of the video and there were only two things of interest: Aug. 27 footage of Ellis walking through the empty lot and headlights in that lot, where the 23-year-old's body was found.

Bambrick said he could not identify the make or model of the car, just that it was on the smaller side. Court previously heard Ellis drove a small, two-door car. 

Neighbour says she saw car in lot

A woman who lives next to the empty lot testified before Bambrick on Wednesday, and told the jury she heard a rustling outside her window in late August which woke her up.

Gail Oakley told the court it was around 1:30 a.m., on a day between Aug. 28 and 30, when she looked out her east-facing window to see a car parked in the empty lot.

"I noticed the headlights of the car were on, the doors were open, but I can't be positive about the interior lights," she said. "It was black, a sedan, I believe a two-door. It reminded me of my Dodge Neon I used to own."

Oakley testified she saw a man standing in front of the car, who appeared to be looking for something.

"He was a slim build, definitely Native descent, hair about down to his neck, sort of a shaggy cut," she said.

Cook pointed out to the jury that his client is fair-skinned and has blond hair.

Recordings made at parents' homes

Court heard Ellis, who was charged with Sanderson's murder in April 2016, became a person of interest in 2014 after police received an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

Winnipeg police Sgt. Doug Bailey testified he interviewed Ellis just after that tip came in and then didn't see him again for almost two years.

"I was tasked to dress up in uniform, go out in a cruiser car and pull over Mr. Ellis and his mom when they were driving around at a certain time," he told the court.

Police had put a recording device in Ellis's car and hoped the traffic stop would cause him to say something incriminating.

Sgt. Wes Rommel, who is a supervisor with the Winnipeg police homicide unit, said that the traffic stop was one of two techniques police used in the the investigation.

Sgt. Wes Rommel is a supervisor with the Winnipeg Police Service's homicide unit. (CBC)

The other was calling a press conference, at which he told media about new information in the case.

"If it means something to [the suspect] it would generate conversation," said Rommel.

In anticipation, audio recording probes were placed in the homes of Ellis's mother and father. The jury heard a recording of a conversation between Ellis and his mother in her living room on April 21, 2016.

Carol Ellis can be heard talking about Sanderson's case being on the news. She also was recorded saying, "I know what you did," and "I am trying to protect you."

The mother and son were yelling at each other and arguing for most of the recording. Each time she brought up the murder, Kyllan Ellis would change the subject.

She also asked her son if he left DNA at the scene. He responded by saying he didn't know what she was talking about.

A sample of Ellis's DNA was taken at the time of his arrest. Court previously heard there was no match with his DNA on the evidence taken from where Sanderson's body was found. 

Both of Ellis's parents are scheduled to testify later in the trial.

The trial continues Thursday.


Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been working as a journalist for nearly 15 years. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor