MILWAUKEE - Arzel Ivery, the man accused of killing Amarah "Jerica" Banks and her daughters Camaria Banks and Zaniya Ivery in 2020, pleaded guilty Friday, April 30 to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
The bodies of Banks, 26, and her girls were found in a Milwaukee garage one day after an Amber Alert was issued for the 5-year-old Zaniya and 4-year-old Camaria.
Ivery was initially charged with aggravated battery but later faced intentional homicide charges.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 16. In September 2020, a doctor ruled Ivery's plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease/defect would not be supported.
Amarah "Jerica" Banks; Arzel Ivery; Camaria Banks and Zaniya Ivery
Prosecutors said Ivery admitted that a domestic fight escalated to the point that he strangled the three and then burned their bodies. The three were found in a garage near 47th Street and Burleigh Street on Feb. 16, 2020 -- a day after an Amber Alert was issued for the children.
According to the criminal complaint, police spoke by phone with Ivery on Feb. 7, 2020. He indicated "there was a funeral for his son that he had with Ms. Banks." He indicated the two got into an argument "because Banks blamed (Ivery) for the death of their son."
Ivery told police "Banks was upset and making a scene" and that he "stayed for a little bit and then left to go sleep in his truck." The complaint says Ivery "did not know where Banks or the children were." Ivery indicated he was out of state and that he "would come back next Friday," Feb. 21 to be interviewed by police.
Ivery's father contacts Memphis police
Memphis police received a call from Ivery's father on Feb. 15, 2020. He stated that Ivery "has confessed that (Ivery) had killed the mother of his children and his children in Milwaukee and burned the bodies."
Search warrant of Banks' apartment
The complaint against Ivery says on Feb. 15, 2020, Milwaukee police obtained a search warrant for Banks' apartment. A trained cadaver dog was brought into the children's bedroom -- and the dog "detected an odor of decomposing human remains." Forensic investigators also detected the "presence of human blood" inside a closet in the room.
Ivery's statement to Milwaukee police
When interviewed by a Milwaukee police officer who traveled to Memphis, the complaint indicates Ivery said "things had been tense between himself and Banks since the death of their son. He stated that Banks had not wanted him around anymore because he reminded her of their son."
The funeral for the son was on Feb. 7, 2020 -- and afterward, Ivery indicated he went to work. When he went to Banks' apartment around 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, the complaint said Banks "was angry that (Ivery) had gone to work and yelled at him that he did not care about the death of their son." Ivery claimed he and Banks had an argument and "he then grabbed Banks and pushed her head into the wall two times." Ivery then indicated he "strangled Banks with both hands."The complaint says Ivery then stated, "he did not want the children...to live in a world where they did not have their mother." He indicated he then strangled both the children. The complaint says Ivery then tried to hide the bodies of all three by burning them.
Ivery also told detectives "he planned on starting a new life in Memphis" and "admitted that he told his father that he had killed Banks and the two children."