Former teacher, veteran now charged with capital murder in hunting death of 11-year-old

Published 6:40 pm Sunday, December 20, 2020

A Jefferson County grand jury has upgraded charges against a Mobile man in the shooting death of 11-year-old Troy Ellis during a turkey hunt.

Joshua Stewart Burks, 36, is charged with the capital murder of a person under the age of 14. Burks was booked back into the Jefferson County Jail and released on Friday. He was previously charged with nitially charged with reckless manslaughter in the case.

Ellis and his father were members of a turkey hunting party that went into the woods on May 1. During the hunt, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Burks shot and killed Ellis. The shot also caused a minor injury to Ellis’ father.

Burks, an amputee, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and was a middle school teacher and coach in Mobile County but he lost his job following the incident.

Troy was a fifth-grader at Cahaba Elementary School in Trussville when he was killed.

The Ellis family in July filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Burks and Kyle Eugene Henley, who acts as a guide for the nonprofit hunting organization, America’s Heroes Enjoying Recreation Outdoors. The case was settled in October.

Birmingham attorney Tommy Spina, who represents Burk, said to that they are disappointed in the grand jury’s decision and that evidence will show that the shooting was not an intentional act.