Deputies: Travis County woman confesses to deadly shooting of fiancé

Jan 02, 2018
Kristen Dark
Charity Sunshine Ellis, 48, is charged with murder and was in the Travis County Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $400,000.

A woman confessed to fatally shooting her fiancé at her western Travis County home early Sunday after an argument over an unpaid utility bill, authorities said.

Travis County sheriff’s deputies arrested Charity Sunshine Ellis, 48, on suspicion of first-degree murder, according to court documents filed Tuesday. She is being held in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $400,000. The case was the county’s 12th homicide of 2017, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kristen Dark said.

“I shot him,” she told deputies outside the Hudson Bend residence near Lake Travis, according to an arrest affidavit. “I shot him in the leg.”

However, when Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services arrived, medics determined that the man, Bradley Sullivan, 37, had been shot in the chest. They rushed him to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, where he died just after 5 a.m. Sunday.

OTHER CRIME NEWS: Man, girl found dead in southwestern Travis County home

Ellis called 911 at 4:19 a.m. and reported that she needed an ambulance at the home in the 4800 block of Doss Road.

The two most recent homicide cases investigated by the Travis County sheriff’s office also appear to involve family members or people living in the same home.

Last month, authorities said evidence suggested that 42-year-old Yariv Kaplan man shot his 9-year-old daughter, Lielle, before turning the gun on himself in their southwestern Travis County home.

The most recent Travis County homicide case before that had been in the summer, when 60-year-old Steven Nurse was found dead in his home in late July. Within days, Nurse’s 24-year-old son, Skye McMillon, was charged with murder.

In Sunday’s incident, deputies arrived and found Ellis exiting the house, Sullivan’s body on the floor inside and Ellis’ 15-year-old child standing in the door. The teen described the events that night to authorities, which they recounted in the affidavit.

An argument between Ellis and Sullivan woke the teenager up about 3 a.m., the affidavit said. Ellis told Sullivan to “get out” because he failed to pay the utility bill — and that’s when the teenager first heard gunshots fired outside, according to the affidavit.

An hour passed before more shots rang out and, the teen told deputies, Sullivan could be heard telling Ellis, “you shot me” or “you hit me,” the affidavit said.

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The teen found Sullivan lying on the living room floor, just inside of the front door, moaning and breathing heavily, the affidavit said. Ellis walked back into the home and told her wounded fiancé that “he needed to drive himself to the hospital,” the teen told police.

According to the affidavit, when deputies asked Ellis where the weapon was, she nodded her head toward the ledge of a nearby fire pit, where they found a .22-caliber revolver.

Authorities then brought Ellis to the sheriff’s office for an interview. During a pat-down in the interview room, a deputy discovered that she still had bullets in her right pants pocket.

“Oh, look at that. There you go,” the affidavit said she told the deputy. “The ones I didn’t shoot him with.”