BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man charged with murder will plead guilty but mentally ill at a May 3 hearing set to resolve his case in the February 2018 fatal stabbing of his wife, his lawyer told a judge Tuesday.

Monroe Elbert was standing in the front yard of his residence in the 600 block of North McLean Street holding a large kitchen knife when police responded to his 911 call on Feb. 5, 2018. Police found Nicole Elbert in the upstairs bedroom with multiple stab wounds. Elbert admitted to following his wife there, where she was packing her things to leave, and stabbing her, according to Bloomington police.

At a hearing where Elbert was expected to enter a guilty plea, public defender Brian McEldowney asked for a delay to allow final details of plea negotiations to be worked out. The case will be resolved with a finding that the 51-year-old defendant is guilty but mentally ill, said McEldowney. 

The state concurs with the finding, which will mean a sentence to the Department of Corrections where he will receive mental health treatment, said Elbert's lawyer. Plea negotiations include a discussion of how many years Elbert will serve of a possible 20- to 60-year sentence. If the two sides cannot agree, Judge Scott Drazewski will decide.

The finding recognizes a defendant's history of mental illness. The ruling differs from an insanity plea, in which a person is deemed insane at the time of the incident and cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. In those cases, the defendant is confined to a mental health facility until they recover or civilly committed if they do not recover within what would have been their maximum sentence.

At the May 3 hearing, the judge will be provided with a stipulated statement of the facts surrounding the incident and a doctor's opinion of Elbert's mental condition.

Relatives of the 30-year-old victim said they had concerns about Elbert's disposition before the stabbing. The day before she died, Nicole Elbert told her mother she feared her husband might kill her. Melissa Pendley recalled telling her daughter "to get out" but the advice came too late. Three of the victim's five children live with Pendley; two others reside with their fathers.

Elbert is also accused of seriously injuring his stepson in 2017. The child, who was 8 at the time, suffered a serious head injury and a fractured leg. During his interview with police after the stabbing, Elbert confessed to causing the boy's injuries by grabbing the boy by the leg and slamming his head on the garage door, according to Bloomington police.

Crime in Central Illinois: See where your hometown ranks


Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.