Milwaukee Man Charged In 7 Slayings Changes Mind About Plea Deal

A Milwaukee man accused of killing seven women in 21 years has changed his mind about a plea deal with prosecutors.

A number of victims’ relatives showed up in court on Thursday after being notified that Walter E. Ellis, 50, would change his not-guilty pleas and possibly avert an April trial.

Instead, prosecutors and defense attorney Patrick Earle took up routine trial motions. During a break, Earle said his client changed his mind but added that he couldn’t divulge any other details.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm would only say prosecutors are preparing for trial.

Virgie Smith-Norwood, the sister of one of the victims, came to court on Thursday. She said the delay makes her angry and the case should have been concluded years ago.

Before the hearing, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams said that Ellis indicated during a hearing Wednesday that he plans to plead no contest to the homicides, which happened between 1986 and 2007.

His case exposed flaws in the state’s DNA database. He had avoided submitting a DNA sample during an earlier prison stint. Police said that if his DNA had been in the database, they may have been able to arrest him before the 2007 killing.