By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A man who killed his girlfriend three years ago will spend 70 years in prison, a Winnebago County judge ordered Thursday.
Terrell D. Ellis, 39, was found guilty of first-degree murder in May in the death of 35-year-old Monica Box. Her body was found April 28, 2016, in her bedroom at 3540 Louisiana Road. She’d been beaten.
Prosecutors said Box picked Ellis up from Stateville Correctional Center the morning of April 28 and drove back to Rockford. The couple was in the house having sex when Ellis discovered a pregnancy test in the bedroom and accused her of cheating on him, a suspicion he also expressed in letters he wrote while he was locked up. In those letters, Ellis promised things would “get ugly” for Box if she was unfaithful.
Ellis made good on that promise, prosecutors said, bludgeoning her to death with a claw hammer and plastic laundry basket.
Box’s daughter, 13 at the time, returned to the house shortly after the beating and saw a nude Ellis emerge from the second-floor bedroom before discovering her mother slumped against a wall and calling 911.
Ellis fled the scene in Box’s car and was later arrested.
First-degree murder is a Class M felony punishable 20-60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections followed by three years of years of parole.
“The defendant is eligible for an extended term sentence of up to natural life after the jury found that when the defendant committed the offense of first-degree murder, the offense was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty was also proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said in a release.
Judge Randy Wilt ordered Ellis to serve 100% of his sentence. Ellis is represented by defense attorney Glenn Jazwiec.