Joseph Elija Ettima Murder Trial to Begin After Delays Caused by His Refusals to Leave Jail Cell
Joseph Elija Ettima has been jailed awaiting trial since 2009 for allegedly murdering his grandmother and setting her house on fire while his 8-year-old brother and 3-year-old niece were inside. That's because jailers have had a heck of a time getting the 30-year-old to come out of his Orange County jail cell so he can make his court dates.
That's scheduled to change this morning in Santa Ana.
Trial is scheduled to begin for Ettima, who faces murder, arson, child-abuse and criminal-threats counts and a sentencing enhancement for arson with an accelerant that, with a conviction, could send him to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Ettima went to the Los Alamitos home of his 69-year-old grandmother, Emma Louise Hardwick-Street, on Jan. 19, 2009, to see if he could move in. But Hardwick-Street refused as she was already raising Ettima's then-8-year-old brother and then-3-year-old niece, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office.
The refusal sparked an argument that allegedly ended with Ettima stabbing his grammy to death, dousing clothing and other items with alcohol and setting the home ablaze before fleeing and leaving the children inside, prosecutors allege.
The boy managed to grab his little sister and escape. Speaking of escaping, that's what Ettima did, to Mexico. But a warrant was issued for him on Jan. 21, 2009, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him in a town south of Mexico City and he was deported from Mexico to the U.S. on April 14, 2009.