It was a dark day at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park 18 months ago.
It’s the day 65-year-old James Ellul killed a man.
“I stabbed him in the side and it went through his lung and into his heart,” Ellul said.
Ellul says he had complained to management at the mobile home park that 55-year-old Jerold Lester Jr. would consistently rev his motorcycle engine outside of Ellul’s home. That complaint made it back to Lester, who confronted Ellul on November 20, 2013.
“He wanted to come down and teach me a lesson and because I was a tattletale,” Ellul said.
Ellul says he was grabbed and repeatedly punched by Lester who then threw him onto a work bench. With blood clouding his eyes, Ellul says he saw the glint of silver of a knife and grabbed it.
“I said I have a knife, stop hitting me but he wouldn’t stop,” Ellul said.
Ellul says he still has nightmares about what happened next as he stabbed Lester.
For the next 18 months, Ellul lived a nightmare, sitting behind bars at the Pinellas County Jail with no bond while he awaited his trial for murder.
“The investigators just wouldn’t believe me,” Ellul said.
It took jurors less than an hour on Friday to find Ellul not guilty. Jurors found Ellul had acted in self-defense.
“I feel so bad that this happened but I had to save my life,” Ellul said.
Ellul says his defense cost him almost everything he owned. He plans on retaining another attorney to see if he can recoup any of the money that he spent and also be compensated for his time stuck behind bars.
“A year and a half of a golden years taken away from you…how do you put a value on that?” Ellul said.