Man who killed 11-month-old girl handed max sentence
STARKE COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - A man who pleaded guilty in December to the murder of an 11-month-old girl has been sentenced to 65 years in prison -- the maximum he could receive as part of a plea deal.
Justin Miller was arrested after the remains of Mercedes Lain were found in a wooded area of Starke County, several days after her reported disappearance. An autopsy found that she had sustained blunt force injuries to the head and her death was classified as a homicide.
Investigators determined that Mercedes had been in Miller’s care at their apartment in Mishawaka last August and that Miller struck the child when she became “agitated.” He hit the child again, banging her head against a wall, following an argument with the infant’s mother, prosecutors said.
Court records show that Miller then took Mercedes’ body -- wrapped in a blanket -- to the woods and buried her.
Miller initially pleaded not guilty in the matter. At Tuesday’s court hearing, a judge accepted the plea arrangement and pronounced a sentence on the 37-year-old defendant.
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