Natasha Ellis, 16, looks at her lawyer before pleading guilty Thursday to the murder and attempted murder of her friend’s parents in New Carlisle last year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

New Carlise teen pleads guilty to murder in stabbing of friend’s mom

Natasha Ellis, 15 at the time, was accused along with her then 13-year-old friend of orchestrating an attack on the younger girl’s family.

Ellis, now 16, was also charged with attempted murder. She pleaded guilty to both charges Thursday afternoon in Clark County Common Pleas Court. She will be sentenced on July 10.

The now 14-year-old is awaiting trial as a juvenile.

Ellis faces 15 years to life on the murder charge and 11 to 16½ years on for attempted murder. Once sentenced she will serve out her time in an adult prison after a psychological expert found earlier this year “there was not sufficient time to rehabilitate” her in the juvenile system.

Ellis had maintained her innocence up until Thursday. During her plea hearing, she hesitated when Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter asked her if she understood that by signing the plea agreement she was waiving her right to a trial.

She asked Rastatter if she could speak with her lawyer before answering and he agreed to a short recess. After speaking briefly with her lawyer, she agreed that she wanted to proceed with accepting the plea agreement.

Ellis had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges on Dec. 27, according to online court records. But on Feb. 25, she was found competent to stand trial after a competency evaluation at Eastway Behavioral Healthcare in Dayton found she was “not intellectually disabled or mentally ill.”

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“She is currently able to understand the nature and objective of the legal proceeding and can assist in her defense,” online court records from the evaluation said. “Therefore, the court finds her competent to stand trial.”

Ellis was accused of carrying out an attack on her friend’s family members on May 23, 2019, at a home on North Church Street in New Carlisle. The friend’s mother, Lee A. Moore, 36, died in the attack. The younger girl’s father and then 17-year-old brother also were hurt, but survived.

As a result of her plea agreement, two additional charges of aggravated murder and felonious assault against Ellis were dropped. She also agreed to testify against the now 14-year-old if her case goes to trial.

Clark County prosecutors declined to comment on Ellis’ plea after the hearing, citing the fact that she has not yet been sentenced and that the 14-year-old’s case remains ongoing. Ellis’ attorney, John Meehling, also declined to comment.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies have said previously that even though Ellis may have acted alone during the attack, the planning of the attack was done in unison with the other teen.

In an interrogation video shown in a July hearing, Ellis told an investigator the 13-year-old left weapons out in the home in certain places for her to use in the stabbing. At the same hearing, a deputy told the court that Ellis told her the night of the attack the two girls were in communication up until moments before the stabbing happened.

The 14-year-old has been charged as a serious youthful offender — which could result in a mixture of juvenile and adult sentences down the line.

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