Prosecutors say man killed relative who wanted to help him

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Dante Thomas appeared in court Monday morning, formally accused of killing his great-aunt Charlotte Ellis, and seriously wounding his cousin Demetra Ellis. What is truly heartbreaking is that the two women were shot while trying to help Thomas.

Prosecutors say the Ellis women had taken Thomas, who was out on bond for allegedly killing his girlfriend Linda Vu, to the mall to buy some clothes.

"She was supposed to go into Willowbrook Mall and do some shopping," said prosecutor Samantha Knecht. "However, the next thing she knew she felt a burning sensation, she realized she could not see, she reached over to her mother, and became concerned when there was no response from her mother."

Charlotte Ellis died that night. Her daughter Demetra is blind. Next to the home where they lived, neighbor Krissa Martin is still in shock.

"They are very sweet ladies," she said. "They always buy Girl Scout cookies from me, they care about their property, their lawn.

Charlotte Ellis is dead and now Demetra is blind. Thomas allegedly told police he shot the women in self-defense. At the time of that shooting, Thomas was out on bond for the death stabbing of his girlfriend Linda Vu on January 27.

A Vu family friend gave Eyewitness News a Facebook message exchange between them and a person posting on an account registered under a Dante Thomas. In the exchange, the person posting on the Thomas Facebook account claims he was framed and also claims that Thomas was killed.

The Vu family friend turned over the Facebook comments to the District Attorney's office on February 4.

The Ellis women were shot on February 11.

After his arrest, investigators found two guns on Thomas. Turns out, the Ellis women had also hired famed defense attorney George Parnham for Thomas, but not any more.

"I'll file a motion to withdraw based on conflict of interest," said Parnham.

Thomas will now need a new lawyer to defend against charges that he killed two women, and shot a third. He is being held without bond.
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