TACOMA, Wash. - The family of a woman killed by her ex-boyfriend is fighting to keep him behind bars. They will be voicing their concerns before a Pierce County judge on Friday.
Joshua Ellis was convicted of second-degree murder of Wendi Traynor, after he admitted to shooting her in the head inside her Milton apartment back in 2017. He was supposed to spend more than 20 years in prison, but now there's a possibility he'll be out early, because of an appeal and a resulting plea deal with prosecutors in Pierce County.
"This is Wendi with the dark hair," said Sherrie Jones, Wendi's Aunt, pointing to a family photo of Wendi as a young girl.
Family members remember Wendi as a bright young woman with a kind heart.
"Bubbly, happy, giggly, always there to help, loving, she was always very sweet," said Jones.
If she were still alive, Jones says she'd be spending the holidays cooking and shopping with the family and making memories with her cousins, all of whom she was close with growing up.
"We always stacked them together with matching pajamas on my mom’s staircase, so cute," said Jones.
In 2017, her father and uncle went to check on her in her apartment, and found her face down, dead from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Her ex-boyfriend, Joshua Ellis, was charged with shooting and killing her after she tried to leave him.
"She had started dinner, and he came in there, and all that we know is that he said it was self-defense. She was shot in the head point-blank. He left her there in a pool of blood for a week," said Jones.
Ellis was sentenced to around 23 years. However, the family was shocked to learn there was an appeal.
"They are trying to say it was a racial comment made during voir dire. That was just picking the jury, not the trial or anything," said Jones.
Sherrie says prosecutors then announced a plea deal with the defense, with a re-sentencing date set for Dec. 1.
"They want to cut back his sentence and let him out in two years. That’s only serving 8 years for shooting someone in the back of the head, leaving them dead for a week and running away," said Jones. "Part of the new deal is to take off his enhanced gun charge, so he would be able to walk out, pick up a gun and carry on with his life. Our family is petrified. This guy is dangerous."
Jones says the family must again re-live the trauma in court, as they will have to try to convince the judge not to accept the deal.
"The family has to go do all their speeches all again, it’s just such a hurtful thing," said Jones.
The family is asking members of the community to show up in Pierce County Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 1, at 1:30 pm in Room 217 A for the hearing. Jones says family members will be passing out ribbons in support of Wendi and domestic violence victims.
"We are going to be handing out ribbons to show solidarity for domestic violence, and it needs to change," said Jones.