Family wants answers after teen takes deal in father's death: 'She chose the easy way'

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - A Hamilton teenager accused of shooting and killing her father has accepted a plea deal, and her family is not happy because they still want answers.

Mariah Ponder, 15, is now back in the Butler County juvenile detention after spending recent months out on bond. Investigators believe she shot and killed her 71-year-old father, James Ponder Sr., in his bedroom in February 2017. Released 911 calls show that she told dispatchers she shot her dad.

Mariah Ponder pleaded "true" to murder in juvenile court Monday, which means that she admitted to the crime.

RELATED | Family of teen accused of killing father feels other people need to be investigated

James Ponder Jr., Mariah's brother -- and James Sr.'s son -- said the family is not pleased with what unfolded in court.

"I was pretty upset. We've waited a year for some answers," he said. "We were led to believe that at the trial, evidence would be presented. We would get to hear the confession and the interrogation and be given a reason why."

James Ponder Jr. said he believes there may have been others involved, and Mariah Ponder may have been told to take the deal, so she didn't incriminate anyone else.

"I feel that she was coerced into pleading so that there was no trial so that the other people weren't brought up," James Ponder Jr. said.

At this point, her brother said he just wants justice for his dad's death, and more than anything, an explanation.

"I don't think we're ever going to know," he said. "I think that she chose the easy way, chose to plead to a lesser charge so that she didn't have to explain herself."

According to James Ponder Jr., there was no abuse or any struggle between Mariah and James Sr. that would indicate a clear motive.

Mariah is currently in the juvenile detention center awaiting her March 19 sentencing. Prosecutors said she could end up spending time in adult jail as well if she does not comply with her juvenile sentence.

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