Fox River Mall shooting suspect pleads not guilty, asks for change of venue

Dezman Ellis, 17.
Dezman Ellis, 17.(Courtesy: WBAY)
Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 11:41 AM CST
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OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man charged in a fatal shooting at the Fox River Mall has entered not guilty pleas.

Dezman Ellis, 17, appeared before an Outagamie County judge Wednesday for an arraignment hearing. He pleaded not guilty to charges of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide and 1st Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety.

Ellis also asked for a change of venue. That means he’s asking for a jury outside of the area to hear the case. Typically that request is made when a defendant believes they cannot get a fair trial due to publicity and news coverage.

The court will address the change of venue motion during a hearing on May 10.

Ellis is accused of shooting and killing Jovanni Frausto during a dispute at the mall Jan. 31.

Frausto’s girlfriend told investigators that they were walking around when they came across a group of people they knew--one of them Dezman Ellis. The girlfriend said Jovanni and Dezman “started to exchange words.”

Jovanni’s girlfriend told police that their argument was over a girl who was in Dezman’s group. About three months ago, Jovanni had been talking to the girl at the center of the dispute. Jovanni’s girlfriend said the girl had previously dated Dezman Ellis, but they were broken up when Jovanni was talking with her.

The girlfriend said Dezman threatened Jovanni, saying, “I will shoot this place up, I will kill you.” She says Dezman Ellis started flashing a gun. She left the area with her niece and Jovanni took off running.

“Jovanni ran straight and Dezman was chasing him with the gun,” says Jovanni’s girlfriend. She said Jovanni was not armed.

A witness in Dezman Ellis’ group said Dezman had a black handgun. She heard two shots. She saw Jovanni Frausto hold his chest, fall into a table, and then to the ground.

Jovanni Frausto suffered a wound to his chest and an exit wound through the back. He wat taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be two gunshot wounds.

Survivor Colt Lemmers told police that he had spotted a friend near the Panda Express in the mall when he heard someone say “drop the gun.” He turned around and heard a shot. After the first shot, he felt something hit his hip. He described the pain as “feeling like a bee sting.” That’s when he realized he had been shot.

Police found two 9mm spent shell casings in the food court.

Ellis went on the run. U.S. Marshals found him in Iowa and took him into custody. Ellis was transported back to Outagamie County.

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