A former Stoddard County Sheriff's deputy accused of allegedly killing his girlfriend for drug money in 1979 died Saturday in a Southeast Missouri hospital.

Max Ellison, of Nixa, was arrested last April for the 1979 murder of Deborah Martin of Cape Girardeau.

Cape Giradeau County Coroner John Clifton says the 61 year-old man died of natural causes at Bootheel hospital.

Ellison, who was scheduled to stand trial in March of 20-10, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and armed robbery in Martin's murder and the case was moved toNew Madrid County on a change of venue.

Prosecutors say evidence against Ellison included a taped confession and an alleged money trail.

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