Judge OKs most statements at issue in Scotland child’s deathChris Miller awaits trial for murder of infant son, Jacob; defense claims a drunk mother is to blame.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
TYNDALL — A judge decided Wednesday to allow the majority of disputed evidentiary statements in the eventual trial of a Scotland man accused of killing his infant son.
Attorneys for Chris Miller, 37, had earlier filed motions objecting to the prosecution’s use of eight pieces of evidence to help prove that Miller killed his 4-month-old son, Jacob, in March.
Miller pleaded not guilty in March to second-degree murder, an alternate count of first-degree manslaughter and aggravated assault. He is accused of inflicting physical abuse on the child that led to the child’s death.
Judge Glen Eng ruled Wednesday that two pieces of the disputed evidence would not be allowed.
Eng excluded a statement by Doreen Schlecter, Miller’s mother-in-law, that she stopped by the home of Chris and Stacy Miller and observed that Chris “seemed very frustrated” and made a comment that he was going to get a vasectomy.
The incident allegedly occurred before Jacob’s birth but after the birth of the Millers’ daughter, Elizabeth.
Eng also excluded evidence, listed in court papers, that “Stacy Miller thought if Jacob had old injuries, Chris Miller may have gotten upset in the past.”
“It’s not credible,” Eng said.
Eng ruled he would allow the remaining disputed statements to be entered as evidence, including, according to court documents:
• “Chris Miller would get frustrated with Jacob.”
• “(Chris) would get rough with Jacob.”
• “Stacy Miller saw Chris Miller lose his temper with Jacob. This was two months prior to Jacob’s death. After this incident, Jacob seemed to be more fussy and irritable as a baby.”
• “Chris Miller shook Jacob on at least one occasion.”
• “Chris Miller would squeeze and shake Jacob too hard.”
• “Stacy Miller told Chris Miller, ‘No, no. You can do this to me, but not to the kids.’ ”
• “Chris Miller would say he could not take it, and would be very frus- trated with Jacob.”
• “Dr. Snell’s autopsy showed evidence of previous rib fractures. Dr. Snell ages these fractures as approximately two months previous to Jacob’s death.”
• “Dr. Snell’s autopsy showed evidence of a chronic or previous subdural hematoma. Dr. Snell estimates this to have occurred at approximately two months before Jacob’s death.”
Eng’s decision to disallow some of the statements followed arguments from Miller’s co-attorney, Tim Whalen.
“I can’t imagine the number of men who have suggested that they’re going to get a vasectomy when they feel that they’ve had enough children or when they are frustrated with their child,” Whalen said. “Frustration has absolutely nothing to do with death. People can be frustrated but not be guilty of anything.”
Whalen also questioned the motivation behind Stacy Miller’s statements.
“On the 911 call, she is saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ She’s sorry for what she did to Jacob,” Whalen said.
“She makes those comments but, when law enforcement talks to her, she is unable to tell them anything that happened that evening because she was so drunk, her memory is lost.
“What evidence is there to show that she didn’t do this? It’s a two-way street here, keeping in mind that the last person to see Jacob was Stacy Miller in an intoxicated state.”
Assistant Attorney General Bob Mayer offered clarification as to why Stacy Miller apologized on the 911 call.
“Perhaps Stacy was saying she was sorry for facts that were implanted into her head by the defendant,” Mayer said.
Court documents say Miller claimed his wife was lying on top of the child, but a later medical examination of the child revealed signs of abuse.
In an application for a protection order that was granted earlier this year, Stacy Miller claimed Chris Miller was physically and mentally abusive to her and both of their children.
“Chris has a bad temper,” Stacy Miller wrote in the application.
Wednesday, Eng also ruled a portion of the jury questionnaire will not be made public because “it could be utilized to obtain information regarding persons’ criminal history and other information that would not be available necessarily otherwise.”
Another motions hearing has been scheduled for later this summer.