Judge defends decision to release suspect from custody just days before she allegedly butchered child

A judge in Ohio has come under fire after it was revealed that he released a woman back out onto the streets just a few days before she allegedly stabbed a child to death.

On June 2, 32-year-old Bionca Ellis allegedly stole a knife from a Volunteers of America Thrift Store and headed to a Giant Eagle grocery store in North Olmsted, Ohio, about 15 miles west of Cleveland. There, she came upon 38-year-old Margot Wood and her 3-year-old son, Julian.

‘Do everything you can to keep this monster behind bars.’

Ellis followed the mother and son throughout the store and even tailed them into the parking lot, surveillance footage showed. Once outside, she allegedly attacked them with the stolen knife, stabbing young Julian in the face and back as he sat helpless in the shopping cart. She also apparently stabbed Margot as she attempted to move her child to safety.

Julian later died from his injuries. Margot was wounded but is expected to survive. Police believe the attack was “random.”

At a court hearing on Monday, Ellis smirked and laughed as she heard the horrific charges against her. Jared Wood — Julian’s father and Margot’s husband — pleaded with the court: “Do everything you can to keep this monster behind bars.”

It appears the justice system in Ohio did not keep Ellis in custody when it had the chance. Just a few days before the deadly assault, Ellis appeared in court for a hearing on an alleged probation violation in connection with some merchandise stolen from Walmart last year.

Magistrate Gregory Sponseller of the Rocky River Municipal Court had already ordered Ellis to receive a psychiatric evaluation after she seemed to have difficulty comprehending what he was saying and had perhaps even fallen asleep while he was talking to her. “I’m not sure she fully understands the simple requirements the court has imposed on her,” Sponseller said at the time.

Unfortunately, no mental health professional was available, and Rocky River Municipal Judge Brian Hagan determined at the time that to keep Ellis in custody on a minor alleged parole violation would have violated her rights. So he authorized her release.

Three days later, little Julian was dead.

‘I think she was hallucinating. … The hallucinations and the voices just got the best of her.’

WJW has since spoken to Judge Hagan about that decision, and he insists he has no regrets. “I’m confident in the way this court handled the matter,” Hagan told the outlet. “We did it by the letter of the law. There was nothing there to send up the alarm.”

“There wasn’t any red flags shooting up that pole. There wasn’t any indications here.”

An investigation into Ellis’ recent history with law enforcement actually reveals several “red flags” and “indications,” though whether Judge Hagan was aware of any of them is unclear.

Back in January, Ellis was arrested in Bakersfield, California, for multiple counts of battery after she allegedly assaulted three people. A few weeks later, she was back in Ohio, telling Cleveland police that she had murdered someone in California and planned to kill again. Bakersfield officers could not find any open murder cases that matched the details Ellis described, so cops in Cleveland took her to a mental health facility.

Then in March, police in Kissimmee, Florida, arrested Ellis for trespassing after she supposedly rented a hotel room without the means to pay for it. As a result, she spent the next few weeks in a Florida jail.

Ellis is now behind bars again, this time at Cuyahoga County Jail on a $5 million bond, having pled not guilty to 10 new counts, including two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors have already stated they intend to seek the death penalty.

Ellis’ mother, Yolanda Eggleton, believes the system failed the Wood family as well as her daughter. “I think she was hallucinating,” Eggleton said. “Bionca has been on several medications that did not work out for her. The hallucinations and the voices just got the best of her.”

“My condolences to this family,” she continued. “When I found out, I was devastated. I’m devastated.

“No child should ever have to lose their life.”

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