Initial hearing held for suspect charged in Mercedes Lain’s death
MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind.— Justin Miller, the suspect charged in connection with Mercedes Lain’s death, appeared in court via videoconference on Tuesday morning.
Miller entered a preliminary plea of not guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a level 1 Felony. He was appointed a public defender.
Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said that his office is in discussion with St. Joseph County officials to decide on where the trial will be held.
Miller’s pretrial conference is scheduled for September 8 at 9 a.m. He is being held in the Marshall County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond.
The court appearance comes less than a day after the preliminary autopsy results for Mercedes were released.
The 11-month-old’s cause of death was blunt force injuries to the head and her manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to the prosecutor.
Mercedes was found deceased in a wooded area in Starke County on August 18 after a days-long search.
During questioning with police, Miller said he woke up at a residence in Mishawaka on August 14 and Mercedes was deceased.
Miller told police he took her body to Starke County and left it there, reports said.
Mercedes’ parents, Tiffany Coburn and Kenneth Lain, told police that Miller had taken the child to give the parents a break, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Both parents have each entered initial pleas of not guilty to neglect of a dependent charges.