Tuscola County man gets at least 31 years in prison for murder of Neal Ellis

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CARO (WJRT) (9/5/2019) - A Tuscola County man will spend dozens of years in prison for the brutal murder of his roommate and tenant in April 2018.

Aaron Eby was sentenced a minimum of 31 years in prison for the murder of his roommate and tenant Neal Ellis.

The ATF and FBI were investigating 24-year-old Eby before the murder of 33-year-old Neal Ellis. Investigators believe Eby was also selling guns illegally and was planning a bank robbery.

"Do you even know what it feels like to be in so much emotional pain that you are going to die," said Tiffany Walker.

That pain was caused by Eby, who pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for Ellis' stabbing death. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing.

Police believe Eby killed Ellis over unpaid rent. Eby buried Ellis's body, but a police K-9 discovered Ellis' remains in a search of Eby's property in Vassar Township.

"In my eyes, you deserve life, you should never get out, and I am sorry for your family, but also sorry for my family and my grandkids that don't have a father anymore because of your hands," said Brenda White, who is Ellis' mother.

Ellis left behind four children.

"I will never forget having to sit my children down and tell them their daddy was gone forever," Walker told Eby at today's sentencing.

Months after he was jailed, Eby injured a corrections officer in an apparent escape attempt.

"It was the acts and the conduct of a wild animal," said Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene.

He says the ATF and FBI were investigating Eby up until his arrest for selling firearms without a license, planning a bank robbery. Because of his anti-government views, there were concerns Eby was capable of more violence.

"The FBI had concerns the defendant was exhibiting signs of violent ideation associated with potential mass casualty attacks," Reene said in court.

Judge Amy Grace Gierhart sentenced Eby to higher end of the sentencing guidelines, sending him to prison for at least 31 years before he is eligible for parole.

Ellis's family and friends are hoping Eby stays in prison for the rest of his life.

"He should never be able to get out, parole should be thrown away," said friend William Stacey.

Reene said the plea deal spares the Ellis family of a trial and will also limit Eby's options for an appeal.