Justin Miller pleads guilty to murder of 11-month-old Mercedes Lain
Justin Miller has pleaded guilty to murder in the August death of 11-month-old Mercedes Lain, according to court records.
Miller, 37, appeared in court on Monday afternoon, where he pleaded guilty to a murder charge as part of a plea agreement.
The plea agreement leaves sentencing to the discretion of the court. The sentencing for murder in Indiana is a minimum of 45 years and a maximum of 65 years.
The judge still has to accept or reject the plea. This will be done at the sentencing hearing.
Miller’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 18.
As part of the factual basis included in the plea agreement, Miller admitted to picking up Mercedes from Tiffany Coburn and Kenneth Lain on August 12 and bringing her to an apartment in Mishawaka.
At the apartment, Miller got into a fight with his girlfriend while he was “intoxicated on synthetic marijuana,” and Mercedes started crying, according to the factual basis portion of the plea agreement.
Miller “backhanded” Mercedes in the head and she hit a wall, according to the plea agreement. Miller told the judge he hit her “a couple of times.”
On the morning of August 14, Miller said he woke up, “rolled a joint of synthetic” and noticed Mercedes was dead, according to the plea agreement. Miller said he then borrowed gas money from a neighbor, drove to Starke County and buried Mercedes’ body in the woods.
An autopsy report lists Mercedes’ cause of death as blunt force injuries to the head and the manner of death is listed as a homicide.
Miller told the judge that he was the only one who could have inflicted her injuries.