Butte student charged in beating

In a case that has chilling parallels to a crime that happened four years ago, police charged a Butte College student Feb. 12 with beating a man into coma with a baseball bat. “It’s déjà vu,” said District Attorney Mike Ramsey, referring to the 1997 murder of Lloyd Green, beaten to death by two drunken Butte College football players in an alley in a south campus neighborhood. And eight years ago a Butte College football player shot a teammate during a dispute, leaving the victim paralyzed from the waist down.

However, this time the suspect is not a Butte College athlete, much to the relief of the school’s Athletic Department, which has been fielding calls from curious reporters in the wake of the beating. In this case 20-year-old Butte College student Reigh Carl Ellis of Vallejo is charged with beating 21-year-old Randal Clark of Willits, who is currently hooked to life support at Enloe Medical Center.

“If the kid dies, Ellis will be charged with murder,” said Ramsey.

Initial information says that Ellis and some friends, who live in an apartment at Oak and Fifth streets, attended a party across the street in the apartment complex formerly known as “The Zoo.” At the party, Ellis allegedly got into an altercation with a man and broke his jaw. The man’s friends then followed Ellis and his pals back to their Oak Street apartment and started banging on the door and yelling for the occupants to come out. When they got no response, Ramsey said, a rock or a brick was tossed through a window.

At that point, Ramsey said, Ellis and two roommates allegedly armed themselves with wooden baseball bats and went outside to confront whoever had broken the window. Finding no one, Ellis and his friends allegedly went back to the Fifth Street apartments. By that time, Clark had walked out of his apartment in the same complex.

“He wanted to know what was going on and he was confronted by Ellis,” according to some witnesses, Ramsey said. “Ellis believed Clark to have been one of the ruckus causers, and they exchanged words.”

Clark reportedly told Ellis he had nothing to do with the incident. At that point, Ellis allegedly took a swing at Clark’s head with the bat and connected. Clark fell to the ground. Ramsey said there are conflicting witness accounts as to whether further blows were delivered to the prone victim.

Alcohol may have been involved, Ramsey said, because though Ellis was not arrested until a few hours after the incident, "he was still under the influence." Ellis is being held in the Butte County Jail against $1 million bail.