August 24, 2023, Peoria, IL – Today, Christopher J. Sanders, 45, received the maximum sentence of natural life in prison in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the ruthless and heinous beating death of his ex-girlfriend, Mona R. Ellison. In June, a Peoria County Jury found Sanders guilty of First-Degree Murder in just under 40 minutes. The evidence presented at trial showed Ellison was covered from head to toe with injuries. She had a fractured nose, a fractured cheek and nearly all her ribs were broken. Her cheek was cut through to her mouth, and Sanders had attempted to stitch that wound back together with a needle and thread that he left in the wound. She had blunt force trauma on every part of her body, inside and out, and was alive through the beating until Sanders choked the life out of her.
In arguing for the life sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Brian FitzSimons, argued that Sanders is dangerous and pointed to the brutal acts involved here. “It wasn’t enough just to hurt her. He did it to inflict pain in a purposeful way. Anyone who does that has no purpose living in any community.”
Ellison’s niece, who would only refer to Sanders as “the guilty person” told the Court how much joy Ellison had brought the family and how she loved living life. “This will not end for us. Our lives forever will be with her in our mourning,” as she fought back tears.
Sanders, who is in custody at the Peoria County Jail, refused to leave his jail cell to attend his sentencing. Chief Judge Katherine Gorman made note of that in handing down her sentence. She said Sanders was a “coward” at every point in this case, referring to how he ran after the incident, how he lied on the witness stand, and how he now did not appear to face the Court. “I can’t find anything redeeming about Sanders,” Gorman said as she imposed the maximum.