Posted on June 13, 2024

Judge Reveals Why He Released Julian Wood’s Suspected Killer Back on the Streets Just Days Before Toddler Was Stabbed

Melissa Koenig, Daily Mail, June 12, 2024

An Ohio judge has defended his decision to release the woman accused of killing three-year-old Julian Wood back on the streets just days before the fatal stabbing -despite a referral for a mental health evaluation.

Julian Wood

Julian Wood

Bionca Ellis, 32, was arrested on May 29 for a parole violation related to a shoplifting charge for stealing $69 worth of merchandise from a Walmart last year.

Bionca Ellis

Bionca Ellis

As she faced the charges last month, a magistrate judge at the Rocky River Municipal Court noticed that she seemingly became unresponsive – and ordered her to be held for a mental health evaluation, according to records obtained by Fox 8.

But Judge Brian Hagan instead released Ellis back into the community on May 31.

Just three days later, police say Ellis stole a knife from a thrift store, and followed Julian and his mother to the parking lot of the Giant Eagle grocery store in North Olmstead, Ohio, where she fatally slashed the young boy in the face and neck and injured his mother.

Still, Hagan said he would not have done anything differently, even now – knowing that Ellis is charged with aggravated murder for the death of the toddler.

He noted that the organization handling mental health evaluations had nobody available, and he thought it would be unjust for Ellis to sit in jail for days on a minor charge.

‘I’m confident in the way the court handled the matter,’ Hagan told Fox 8.

‘We did it by the letter of the law, there was nothing there to send up alarms.’

‘There wasn’t any red flags shooting up that pole,’ he said, explaining that there were ‘no signs of mental distress, no signs of previous, violent acts.’

But it has since been revealed that Ellis had a criminal record going back several months in three different states – and she once even confessed to cops that she had murdered someone and wanted to kill again.

In January, Ellis was arrested in Bakersfield, California on three counts of ‘battery on person’ for allegedly assaulting three people, Fox 8 reports.

The following month, she reportedly told police in Cleveland she killed a woman in California and she wanted to kill again.

The local police then transported Ellis to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, as cops in Bakersfield determined her confession was not credible because it was inconsistent with any unsolved cases.

By March, Ellis was arrested in Florida after she booked a hotel room in Kissimmee but did not have the money to pay for it.

She spent one month in jail for trespassing.

Then, on May 29, police found her trundling to the bus stop in a wheelchair and discovered there was a warrant out for her arrest.

As she was taken into custody, police body camera footage showed her almost dancing as she excitedly proclaimed, ‘I’m getting a free ride!’

When she appeared in court to face the parole violation, though, Magistrate Gregory Sponseller became concerned about her mental status.

He could be heard in court audio from the hearing wondering whether Ellis was paying attention or if she was falling asleep, repeatedly asking the suspect whether she could hear him until he decided she needed to get a mental health evaluation.

‘Let’s hold her for an evaluation from Recovery Resources,’ he ordered.

‘I’m not sure she fully understands the simple requirements the court has imposed on her,’ he noted.

Ellis would later repeat some of those behaviors when she appeared in court on Monday to face charges for the brutal stabbing on June 2.

She initially appeared via video feed with her head down at the hearing and refused to answer any of the judge’s questions about whether or not she had read the indictment.

It was only after a judge ordered an attorney with the pubic defender’s office to go to the Cuyahoga County Jail and read the indictment to Ellis that the suspect appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

She was then seen smiling and almost laughing as the judge read out the charges against her, and even turned directly towards the camera and grinned.

At that point, Ellis’ defense attorney suggested that she has ‘notable mental health issues.’

But just a few moments later, Wood’s grieving father, Jared Wood, pleaded for the judge to ‘do everything you can to keep this monster behind bars’ and prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

Police say Ellis first encountered Julian and his mother, Margot, 37, as they were exiting the Giant Eagle grocery store and followed them outside to their car — brandishing a knife she had allegedly stolen from a nearby Volunteers of America Thrift Store.

She then allegedly stabbed the toddler in the face and the back as he sat in the shopping cart, then slashed his mother as she tried to pull her child to safety, according to Cleveland 19.

Ellis was found just a few minutes later walking down a nearby side street, still holding a bloodied knife, police said.

She had no previous connection with the Wood family, authorities say, calling the attack ‘entirely a random act of violence.’

Ellis’ mother, Yolanda Eggleton, says she feels for the Wood family and was shocked when she heard the news.

‘When I found out, I was devastated, I’m devastated,’ she told Fox 8. ‘No child should ever have to lose their life.

‘She was around my grandkids,’ Eggleton added. ‘It could’ve been one of my grandkids.’

But she said she blames both the court and mental health systems for failing her daughter and the Wood family.

She noted that her daughter had been suffering from mental health issues for years, and suggested she may have been ‘hallucinating’ when she allegedly killed Wood and stabbed his mother.

‘Bionca has been on several medications that did not work out for her,’ Eggleton explained. ‘The hallucinations and the voices just got the best of her.’

She added that she believes the police should have done more to check on Ellis’ mental status following her alleged confession and proclamation that she wanted to kill again.

‘This won’t be the last time,’ Eggleton warned.

‘And it’s so sad, and so tragic that a baby had to lose their life — an innocent baby.’

Ellis is now facing charges including murder, aggravated murder, attempted murder, felonious assault, endangering children, tampering with evidence and misdemeanor theft.

A judge set Ellis’ bond at $5 million, and ordered the suspect to return to court next Monday.