Trial begins for man accused of beating woman in wheelchair to death

Kristen Johanson
July 30, 2019 - 6:04 pm
Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia

KYW Newsradio, file

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s the first day of trial against a Philadelphia man accused of murdering a woman in wheelchair and then hiding her body in the basement for weeks while living in her home. The defendant says he’s "absolutely not guilty."

The body of 61-year-old Elba Monroig was found in October 2017 decomposing, wrapped in bedding and duct tape, inside her home on E. Madison Street near Frankford and Allegheny avenues in Kensington.  

Prosecutors say Eric Mackey, who was living with the victim, bludgeoned her head with a hammer and hid her in a basement closet. 

Monroig was ill and used a wheelchair for mobility. She was introduced to Mackey, who was just out of prison, so he could help her get around. But when she went missing, her family looked for her at her home and was greeted by Mackey. 

They called police when they couldn’t find her and they smelled a "distinct" foul odor in the home, which is when prosecutors say they found Monroig in the basement. 

Monroig’s sister tearfully told the jury about the odd way she found the victim’s home, like missing and moved furniture. She says Mackey followed her and her son around the home as they first looked for Monroig, and they felt very uncomfortable.  

The neighbor next door, who introduced the victim and the defendant, also took the stand and recalled the last time he saw the victim, which was when Mackey took her to the bank weeks earlier. He says he continued to smell something terrible, worse than a dead rat, get worse over the weeks.

Eventually, he says he and his girlfriend got in touch with the victim’s family who then called police.

During his opening statement, Mackey’s defense attorney told the jury there’s a lack of evidence in the case and they should "question everything" the prosecution brings forth, adding that in the end, they would have more questions than answers. 

Testimony continues through the week.