UPDATE: Convicted Fox River Mall shooter sentenced to 40 years in prison

Dezman Ellis sentencing hearing. Feb. 1, 2022.
Dezman Ellis sentencing hearing. Feb. 1, 2022.(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:23 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2022 at 1:48 PM CST
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OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Convicted Fox River Mall shooter Dezman Ellis has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The sentencing also includes 25 years of extended supervision.

Ellis, 18, was found guilty of 2nd Degree Intentional Homicide and 1st Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety. On Jan. 31, 2021, Ellis shot and killed 19-year-old Jovanni Frausto in the mall food court during an argument over a girl.

Family of the man shot and killed at the Fox River Mall last year were emotional as they pleaded with a judge for the maximum sentence.

Frausto’s father, Julio, says this crime continues to haunt the family.

“Jovanni was the love of my life. I miss him dearly,” said father Julio Aponte. “It has been a year and a day my son since was murdered. And the image of his little brother that looked up to him jump on his casket and lay on his chest for the last time just breaks my heart every day. I pray justice will be served because I never will be able to see my son again. I’ll never be able to see him get married, have children of his own. See his brother grow up. I won’t be able to tell him I love him again.”

Jovanni’s mother called for an end to gun violence through stricter punishment for gun-related killings.

“Jovanni Frausto’s life mattered. No mother should have to bury a child. No mother should have to walk into a hospital and not be able to see their son respond,” said Tania Lopez.

Frausto’s brothers and sisters remembered him as a loving brother who was looking forward to a new opportunity in California.

“I prefer that he receive the maximum sentence. Everything that happened is uncalled for. It was not meant to happen. It shouldn’t have happened,” said Frausto’s brother. “It is very difficult for me. My family has strong genes. Me and my brother we look very much alike. It’s very hard for me to wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror. I see my brother.”

Frausto’s uncle, JJ, also asked for the maximum sentence.

“My recommendation would be the max. There was no need and no call for my nephew to lose his life at a young age. He still had a full life to live. He has brothers and cousins that miss him very much,” said JJ Aponte.

Jovanni’s sister remembered her big brother as a protector.

“He protected everyone that he loved. He had such a pure heart. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.

It was a chaotic start to a sentencing hearing for Ellis. Prior to testimony, Judge Mark J. McGinnis ordered an unidentified man in a red coat out of the hearing. The judge then worked to gain control over the packed courtroom.

Victims, witnesses and family members were given the ability to testify via video. One person’s video was cut when the court saw he was driving. He was told his video would be connected when he pulled over and was no longer actively driving.

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

Another man, Colt Lemmers, was shot and injured. He was treated and released from the hospital.

Lemmers talked of survivor’s guilt and how this crime has impacted his life.

“You’ve cost me a lifetime of pain I can barely handle. I have a hard time making friends because I can’t trust anybody,” Lemmers said. “I barely go outside my house. When I do, it’s just to go shopping or go out to eat with my family.”

MORE COVERAGE: Exclusive: “At least I can still hug him,” Mom of bystander shot at Fox River Mall reflects a year later

The Executive Director of Fox Cities Victim Crisis Response Team released a statement about the impact the crime had on the community:

We were able to assist a witness who thought they would never be able to return to the mall. This person engaged in several long and meaningful conversations expressing their fear, dread, and sleeplessness they were dealing with. They had difficulty with returning to work. They struggled with reliving this incident over and over in their mind. There was a persistent sense of unease that plagued them. They sought EAP assistance and taking to Human Resources. The person was traumatized and trying to make sense of such a senseless crime. The person was eventually able to return to the mall, with their family by their side, and lay a flower where the young man lost his life. I truly believe this person found healing and will be able to move on from this incident. There are many other survivors who will do the same. We gave many the tools they needed to take the next steps in healing, while others found a way to work through their trauma through their own personal reserves and resiliency

Executive Director Emily Lewis

The team of trained volunteers helps local law enforcement with responding to immediate needs of victims and witnesses.

As part of Ellis’s plea agreement, he will avoid a life sentence. He was initially charged with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, but that count was amended to 2nd Degree Intentional Homicide. By taking a plea, Ellis avoided jury trial.

“He went from facing life in prison to 40 years in prison and 20 years out in the amended count,” said attorney Scott Ceman.

More than 100 law enforcement officers from the region responded that day. Officials tell us that’s part of training.

”The concepts and the tactics and the techniques and the working together amongst one another, they were able to call enough of that training in and respond effectively to that incident,” said Jason Weber, Public Safety Training Coordinator, NWTC.

Weber hopes the public will remember to remain vigilant.

“Basically, the big things is to be aware for surroundings, is huge. Know where there’s other exits, what’s going on around you,” says Weber. “It comes down, in these instances, it comes down to three steps. It’s run, hide, fight, and depending on your surroundings and what the situation is, is really what could potentially be the best option.”

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