Stabbed woman ‘would have bled to death’ if deputy hadn’t found her, prosecutor says

Ellis Lamont Cenales
Ellis Lamont Cenales

A man who stabbed his wife in front of their children and left her for dead has testified his wife stabbed herself so he went outside to wait for a ride, a prosecuting attorney said.

But one of Ellis Cenales’ children told Harrison County deputies a different account of what happened at their home on Racetrack Road in Gulfport: Cenales had thrown a fan at his wife and broke it, threw a large glass at her and tried to choke her before he stabbed her with a large kitchen knife, said Harrison County prosecuting attorney Herman Cox.

The mother told one of the children to go to a neighbor’s house and call 911, and Cenales tried to prevent the first deputy on the scene from going in the house to check on his wife, according to an affidavit and court testimony.

“The woman would have bled to death if the deputy hadn’t insisted on finding her,” he said.

Cenales, 36, is held on a $150,000 bond on a charge of aggravated domestic assault.

The child said the couple had argued, but what the argument was over isn’t clear, Cox said. The child said her father cleaned off the knife when he was done.

Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner found probable cause Friday for a grand jury to hear the case.

Deputy Darius Watts found Cenales in the driveway with his belongings.

According to an affidavit, Cenales first said his wife had left with a friend with whom she’d had an argument. When Watts asked if anyone who was wounded was in the house, Cenales said his wife was in the shower. Watts then asked to see the wife, but Cenales changed his story and said she was in the bedroom asleep.

Watts went inside anyway and found the woman bleeding profusely from a stab wound to her left arm. Crime-scene technicians documented “a large amount of blood in the bathroom, master bedroom hallway and living room,” a sworn statement says.

“I saw as much blood at the scene as I’ve seen where people were killed and bled to death,” Cox said.

Cenales has testified he saw his wife stab herself so he decided to leave, but said he didn’t know their children were present, Cox said.

In a jailhouse phone call, Cenales told a relative he’d stabbed his wife, but said he “was going to beat the charge,” Cox said. Inmate phone calls at the jail are recorded.

Cenales has been in jail since June 23, when deputies went to his home in response to a domestic complaint.

Cenales was convicted of aggravated assault and arson from a 2007 incident involving a different person, Cox said, and received a 10-year prison term in 2009. Cenales also was convicted in 2015 of bringing contraband into the Lauderdale County jail.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews