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Indiana court: Teen accused of Terre Haute murder can be tried as adult

A view of the Vigo County Courthouse in June 2023 in Terre Haute, Indiana. (Provided Photo/Google Street View)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WISH) — A 17-year-old accused of delinquent conduct in July 2021 can be tried as an adult with murder, the Indiana attorney general announced Friday.

Montez Ellington Jr. faces three criminal charges including a murder count in Vigo Superior Court 6. The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled he can be charged as an adult for the crimes that happened when he was 15. The attorney general’s office shared the court’s ruling on Friday.

Ellington allegedly fired gunshots into a car at a gas station in 2021, killing 15-year-old Chloe Carroll, the attorney general’s office says.

News reports say prosecutors believe Ellington fatally shot Carroll shortly after 12:30 a.m. July 23, 2021, in the backseat of a vehicle at the Hoosier Pete Mini Mart at 13th and Popular streets. Ellington’s case had initially been moved to adult court in July 2022, but the jury trial set for last January was delayed while awaiting the Court of Appeals’ decision.

Ellington is also charged with attempted murder and criminal recklessness in Vigo County.

Ellington’s Terre Haute attorneys had appealed the decision to try him as an adult. The dispute that sent the case to the Court of Appeals arose after Ellington’s case was waived from a juvenile court and moved to the Vigo superior court, and questions arose as to whether the superior court could prosecute someone younger than 18 as an adult.

Online court documents redacted information to show where Ellington lives. It was unclear Friday where Ellington is incarcerated, although an Indiana Department of Correction spokesperson says he’s not in an Indiana prison.

Indiana law allows prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults if the probable cause of the crime involves homicides, manslaughter and certain drug cases.

Another person involved in the shooting, Cody Scherb, also was charged as an adult. Scherb pleaded guilty to dangerous possession of a firearm, and the theft of the firearm that killed Carroll. Scherb was placed on six years of probation.

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