Scotland man convicted of killing his infant sonSecond-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
PARKER — A jury has convicted a Scotland man of killing his infant son.
After deliberating Wednesday afternoon and apparently into the evening, a Turner County jury found Chris Miller, 39, guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the March 2011 death of his four-month-old son Jacob.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Aggravated assault is punishable with a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
The jury was given the case around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after the lawyers finished closing arguments, according to the Turner County Clerk of Court’s Office.
Miller’s trial, which began with two days of jury selection that started on Jan. 17, was held at the Turner County Courthouse in Parker since it was moved out of Bon Homme County by a judge last October.
Deputy Attorney General Bob Mayer and Bon Homme County State’s Attorney Lisa Rothschadl prosecuted the case. Miller was defended by attorneys Tim Whalen, of Lake Andes, Scott Podhradsky, of Wagner, and Ken Cotton, of Wagner.
Prosecutors finished presenting their case to jurors on Friday after almost five days of testimony.
Lawyers for the defense began with their case on Friday afternoon, which included testimony from Miller himself.
The case was investigated by the state Division of Criminal Investigation, Bon Homme County Sheriff’s Office and the Scotland Police Department.
According to court documents, the series of events that led to Miller’s arrest began when he made a 911 call shortly before midnight on March 3, 2011, and reported he found his wife passed out and lying on top of Jacob, and that Jacob was not breathing.
At the hospital, the couple spoke with state Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Todd Rodig, court documents say. Stacy Miller was “incoherent and smelled of alcohol” and was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.216, more than twice the legal limit for driving in South Dakota.
Chris Miller, who also allegedly smelled of alcohol, became “very agitated and threatened to slap his wife and to kill (Bon Homme County Sheriff Jason Bechtold), (Rodig) and hospital staff.”
Jacob was transported to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls and diagnosed with broken ribs, severe skull fractures and bleeding in the brain, court documents say.
Jacob’s attending doctor described the injuries to Rodig as “the type of injuries that could occur from being in a high-speed car accident, and could not be obtained from someone lying on top of Jacob on a bed.”
Stacy Miller later told investigators she drank too much to remember the night in question, but that Chris Miller often got frustrated with Jacob’s crying and was rough with him, court documents say.
Jacob died on March 8, 2011, after several days in the hospital. An autopsy found Jacob had signs of past abuse, including prior rib fractures and head injuries.