Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 5, 2013

Man gets 15-year sentence in child neglect case

James Miller pleads to felony charge

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— A plea deal Tuesday sent a Kokomo man to prison for nine years for the neglect of his then 2-month-old daughter.

Howard Superior Court 2 Judge Brant Parry handed James P. Miller, 24, a 15-year sentence — with nine years to be served in prison — for the June 2011 incident which left his daughter with three skull fractures, a broken arm, fractured legs and two fractured ribs.

In court Tuesday, Miller acknowledged the fact he was pleading guilty to neglect, saying he apologized “for my lack of action and my negligent decision.”

That didn’t sit well with Parry, who said Miller’s statement fell well short of taking responsibility for the child’s myriad injuries. The girl, now 3, has fully recovered.

“I don’t really understand that,” Parry said of Miller’s statement. “Obviously something has to happen for an infant to come away with all those skull fractures.”

The child’s step grandfather, Thomas Tsuing, asked Parry to give Miller the maximum jail time allowed under the plea agreement, nine years, and Parry complied.

Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann asked Parry to put Miller on supervised probation for an additional nine years, saying he was confident Miller would violate the terms of his probation and end up serving the majority of the time in prison.

Parry shortened that probation request to six years. With more than two years of incarceration credit already served at the Howard County Jail, and with future credit for good behavior, Miller would have to serve a little under 3½ years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Tsuing said the victim has recovered physically but said she continues to suffer the effects of the abuse.

“You don’t understand what you’ve done to her,” Tsuing said.

After his release, a no-contact order will keep Miller from seeing his daughter.

According to the sheriff department, deputies were called to Howard Regional Health System June 13, 2011, to assist Child Protective Services in the investigation of an infant with suspicious injuries. The infant was brought to the hospital by her mother after she noticed bruising and swelling to the infant’s left arm.

The infant was then taken to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for further examination and treatment, which showed the infant suffered a broken clavicle and a possible skull fracture, according to the probable cause affidavit filed in Howard Superior Court 2.

The infant’s mother told police that Miller, who was her boyfriend, was watching the infant at her residence on East Alto Road when the injuries occurred.

When questioned, Miller claimed he was playing with the infant when she tumbled head-first off his back and landed on the floor, the affidavit read.

The child wasn’t taken for medical care for several days after that incident, according to police.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com

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