Crime & Courts

Man guilty in fatal crash accused of leading cops on chase in stolen beer company truck

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A man who has been found guilty of killing his passenger in a drugged driving crash was the same man arrested after police chased a stolen Wichita Brewing Company truck about four months later.

Joe Nathan Ellis, age 24, of Wichita, was sentenced Friday to 109 months in prison, or just over nine years, District Attorney Marc Bennett said in a news release. He was convicted in February in connection to an August 2017 meth-fueled deadly crash.

He is also accused of leading police officers on a chase in a stolen Wichita Brewing Company pickup in December 2017. That case is still pending in Sedgwick County District Court.

Ellis was the driver of a car that ran a stop sign at K-15 and 55th Street South near Derby on Aug. 22, 2017, Bennett said. The car crashed into a southbound pickup driven by Thomas Toon, of Burden, who survived the wreck. Mark Standerfer, 33, of Mulvane, was a passenger in Ellis’ car and died of his injuries nine days later. Ellis had a suspended driver’s license at the time.

“Witnesses told Sedgwick County Sheriff deputies that Ellis’ car was moving at a very high rate of speed when he ran the stop sign,” Bennett said. “Ellis was found to have methamphetamine in his bloodstream.”

Sedgwick County District Court records show Ellis was found guilty by a jury in February of involuntary manslaughter, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; aggravated battery, DUI causing great bodily harm or disfigurement; driving while suspended; and failure to yield at a stop sign.

Ellis is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail as a second criminal case is pending in district court. That case alleges Ellis was involved in two separate police chases six days apart in December 2017 — one of which involved a crash.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that Ellis stole a 1995 Honda Civic on Dec. 7, 2017. He is charged with theft, flee and elude law enforcement in the commission of a felony, and flee and elude with a motor vehicle accident causing property damage.

Ellis was arrested by Wichita police six days later on suspicion of driving a 2006 Honda Ridgeline stolen from Wichita Brewing Company on Dec. 13, 2017. He is charged with possession of stolen property, flee and elude in commission of a felony, and flee and elude with five or more traffic violations in that case.

The stolen truck had the local brewing company’s logo on its side. After getting its damaged truck back from the grand theft auto case, the company released a “Grand Theft Ale” beer, The Eagle previously reported.

Ellis had not yet been charged in the fatal August crash at the time of the two police chases in December.

The next court hearing on the case of the police chases is scheduled for April 22.

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