BANGOR, Maine — The Virginia woman accused of stabbing two strangers in their shoulders at the Bangor Mall in June 2015 pleaded no contest Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to two counts of aggravated assault.
A sentencing date for Elizabeth Ellis, 36, of Alexandria, Virginia, has not been set.
No contest pleas result in convictions.
Ellis, who has been unable to post $35,000 cash bail since her arrest on June 2, 2015, most recently has been at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor for an evaluation to determine if she is competent.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson on Monday found Ellis was competent to enter the pleas but questioned Ellis about why she did not want to plead not guilty by reason of insanity and proceed to trial.
Ellis said that she preferred to face the certainty of a release date that would come with a prison sentence rather than the uncertainty of being found not guilty by reason of insanity and being committed indefinitely to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.
Her attorney, Aaron Frey of Bangor, told Anderson that he had discussed legal options with his client. Frey also said that he believed Ellis was competent to make the decision about whether to go trial.
Assistant District Attorney for Penobscot County Stephen Burlock, who is prosecuting the case, told the judge there is no plea agreement in the case.
Questions about whether Ellis was suffering from mental illness at the time of the stabbings stemmed from her behavior in the mall and afterward.
After the stabbings, Ellis drove to Farmington and later turned herself into police there. She told investigating officers that the attacks were ” unprovoked ’cause I am not well,’” according to the court affidavit.
Ellis approached the two strangers from behind and attacked them, Bangor police said in the document. One victim was stabbed about 11:35 a.m. June 2, in American Eagle near a mall entrance, and the other victim was stabbed from behind at about 11:58 a.m. in the restroom at J.C. Penney, according to police.
Both women were taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where they were treated and released, the prosecutor said Monday.
Ellis faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the charges. She also could be ordered to pay restitution for the victims’ medical costs.