DeKalb CEO Ellis jurors go home without reaching verdict

5:01 p.m. —Around 4:45 p.m. the jurors in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis alerted deputies that they had a question.

All the lawyers were summoned. The benches filled with spectators.

Judge Courtney Johnson sat and and simply read: “We’d like to go home at five,” drawing laughter from spectators.

“Big surprise,” one of the defense lawyers grumbled.

Johnson wrote back the usual reminder; don’t discuss the case outside the jury room. She told them to be back Thursday at 9 a.m.

So far, the jury has deliberated 12 hours over three days.

2:39 p.m. — Jurors in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis asked for transcripts of witness testimonies, an unusual request.

“I think the answer would be ‘no,” said defense attorney Craig Gillen.

“I’ve never seen it done before. It seems odd,” District Attorney Robert James said.

Judge Courtney Johnson sent a note to the jurors, telling them they had to rely on their memories.

1:33 p.m. —The jury deciding the corruption case of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis has resumed its deliberations after taking an hour off for lunch.

12:15 p.m. —After deliberating slightly more than an hour Wednesday morning, the jury deciding the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis asked to break at 12:30 p.m. for an hour-long lunch.

Most of the morning was spent hearing again three tapes played during testimony.

11:08 a.m. — The jury finally retired to the jury room Wednesday after re-listening to three recordings of conversations DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis had about campaign contributions.

Jurors requested to hear the third recording, which was a Sept. 27, 2012, conversation between Ellis and his purchasing director, Kelvin Walton.

“It may be a matter of not doing business with them in the future. They may be on call,” Ellis said of Power and Energy Services, which declined to contribute $2,500 to Ellis. “If they can’t be responsive when we’re calling them, I mean I guess I have a real problem with whether this is a company we ought to be using.”

11:03 a.m. — Attorneys for DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis asked for a mistrial another two times Wednesday, and Judge Courtney Johnson denied their requests.

They asked for a mistrial because a recording played for jurors included a comment from a government witness who said Ellis told him the county would stop doing business with Power and Energy Services.

They also sought a mistrial when they saw jurors sharing notes with each other

In denying their requests, Johnson said the recordings were part of evidence in the case, and she said it was impossible to know what jurors were talking about. She instructed jurors to only talk about the case in the jury room.

Ellis’ attorneys have asked for mistrials about eight times since the trial began.

10:24 a.m. — On a secret recording, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis discussed not giving government work to companies that didn't return his phone calls and questioned whether his request for campaign contributions was legal.

“Those are people we don’t need to do business with,” Ellis said on the Oct. 25, 2012, recording.

Ellis also talks with DeKalb Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton, who was making the recordings for prosecutors, about Power and Energy Services. The company stopped receiving work from the county after it declined to contribute to Ellis’ campaign.

“All right, Power and Energy Services, I told you about them right?” Ellis asks Walton on the recording.

Walton responds, “We’re not messing with them anymore. We’re going with another vendor.”

Ellis also says on the recording that he wasn’t going to bother a company called National Property Institute, which initially declined to contribute to his campaign but gave $2,500 to him on Oct. 23, 2012 — two days before the recording was made.

“They didn’t do nothing, but I’m going to just leave them alone,” Ellis said of National Property Institute.

9:47 a.m. — On the first recording jurors listened to Wednesday, they heard DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis telling the county purchasing director to stop giving work to Power and Energy Services under a contract to maintain generators.

“Just let it expire,” Ellis said Sept. 28, 2012. “And y’all should have a note in the file that they’re not returning phone calls.”

Power and Energy Services had a $250,000 contract with DeKalb, but the company stopped receiving work after it refused to contribute $2,500 to Ellis re-election campaign.

9:35 a.m. — Jurors returned to court Wednesday for a third day of deliberations in the corruption trial of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

The jury planned to begin its day by re-listening to two recordings of Ellis as he talked about how to deal with contractors that weren’t returning his phone calls seeking campaign contributions.

In the first recording, Ellis discusses whether the county should continue doing business with contractors who were “non-responsive” to his phone calls.

“They can not give, but we’re not going to have people not returning phone calls,” Ellis said about National Property Institute during a Sept. 28 meeting with former DeKalb Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton, who recorded conversations for prosecutors.

Nearly one month later, in the second recording, Ellis talks about whether various contractors had contributed to his campaign.

Ellis has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he strong-armed contractors into giving him campaign contributions. He’s charged with bribery, extortion, theft and perjury.

The jury deliberated for five hours Tuesday and two hours Monday.