Guilty plea ends murder trial

Willie Anderson, 43, is sentenced to 15 years to life for killing Jeff Ebner.

SPRINGFIELD — Dangling from Amy Ebner’s right wrist is a blue bracelet with the words “Finish Strong” written in bold, white letters.

It’s a philosophy her late husband, Jeff Ebner, lived by, and one he instilled in his son.

“He told (his son), whatever you do in life ... always finish strong,” she said.

Amy Ebner was in court Thursday, July 22, as Willie Anderson, accused in the 2008 beating death of Jeff Ebner, pleaded guilty to one count of murder, ending his trial after four days.

Anderson hung his head and sobbed several times as Clark County Common Pleas Judge Richard O’Neill sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison. He was originally charged with aggravated murder, three counts of murder, two counts each of felonious assault and aggravated robbery and one count of tampering with evidence.

Anderson will be eligible for parole in 2025.

Anderson, 43, was accused of beating Ebner during an attempted robbery two years ago at Ebner’s family business, Ebner & Sons auto reclamation, 420 E. North St.

Ebner, 53, was found in his office Nov. 13, 2008, on his back with head injuries.

Investigators found Ebner’s wallet several feet away and an empty cash drawer near the building’s entrance. More than $800 in cash was in the breast pocket of Ebner’s shirt.

Police were alerted to the scene by an anonymous 911 call. Prosecutors said Anderson was the man who placed that call, and that the state planned to present at least one witness who would identify his voice.

Amy Ebner’s hands shook rapidly as she read a statement to the court prior to sentencing.

“There are no words to explain to you the terrible loss and loneliness I feel every day,” she said. “Jeff was the love of my life. This is what Mr. Anderson took from me.”

Assistant Prosecutor Dan Driscoll said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“Anderson is 43 now ... this will ensure that he will spend a majority of the remainder of his life behind bars,” said Driscoll.

Defense attorney Michael Edwards of Enon said that in light of the state’s case, his client didn’t want to risk continuing with the trial.

“It was prudent to go with a known sentence,” Edwards said.

Amy Ebner said she’s holding onto her husband’s “Finish Strong” mantra.

“I think I am stronger now, but I’m stronger because of him,” she said. “He was my rock.”

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