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Miller v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 17, 2017

Michael Miller, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Greene Circuit Court The Honorable Erik C. Allen, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 28C01-1408-F1-2

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Kimberly A. Jackson Indianapolis, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Barnes, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Michael Miller appeals his conviction for attempted murder. We reverse and remand.


         [¶2] The issues we address today are:

I. whether Miller was denied his right to a speedy trial under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(B);
II. whether the trial court properly rejected his insanity defense; and
III. whether the trial court applied an incorrect standard in convicting Miller of attempted murder.


         [¶3] At about 11:30 p.m. on the night of August 10, 2014, Jeremy Kohn was sitting on the porch of his residence in Bloomfield with his girlfriend, Kylee Bateman. Kohn and Bateman observed Miller twice approach a neighboring house, knock on the door or ring the door bell, and then walk away. Kohn did not know Miller personally but believed he may have gone to school with him. Kohn and Bateman waved at Miller. Bateman was telling Kohn a story that may have made them both laugh; Miller apparently believed Kohn and Bateman were laughing at him. He then approached Kohn "nonchalantly, " drew a pocketknife with a three-to-four-inch blade, and cut Kohn's throat without saying a word. Tr. p. 53. Miller, who had a "blank look" on his face, then turned around and left, still without saying anything. Id. The cut to Kohn's neck was not deep enough to damage his jugular vein, carotid artery, or trachea, although a slightly deeper cut could have done so and would have posed a risk of death. The wound required over forty stiches to close.

         [¶4] On August 13, 2014, Marshall Randy Raney of the Worthington Police Department responded to a report of a suspicious person in a local cemetery. Worthington is about twelve miles from Bloomfield. The suspicious person was Miller. Marshall Raney believed Miller seemed "backward" and quiet. Id. at 74. Miller told Marshall Raney that he was trying to hitchhike his way to Indianapolis. At the time of this encounter with Marshall Raney, Miller had not yet been identified as a suspect in the attack on Kohn.

         [¶5] Later on August 13, Miller was arrested in Worthington, about twelve miles away from Bloomfield. As Miller was being placed in handcuffs by Deputy Harvey Holt of the Greene County Sheriff's Department, he said that he knew why he was being arrested and asked what charges he would face. Miller then submitted to an interview conducted by Officer Marvin Holt of the Bloomfield Police Department after waiving his Miranda rights.

         [¶6] During the interview, Miller said he had been attempting to return a textbook and some flashcards to a former teacher; Miller was twenty-four years old at the time of the crime. He volunteered several times that he was not "paranoid" or "psychotic" or on drugs, but he also said that people he encountered often attempted to frighten him or laughed at him. Ex. 7. He then admitted that he cut Kohn's throat with a knife after Kohn and Bateman smiled at him, and Kohn looked at Bateman and shook his head. Officer Holt related that family members had expressed concern about Miller's mental health and asked Miller whether he believed he needed help or medication; Miller denied that he did so and said he believed he was fine. Miller said that, because he did not hear any sirens after cutting Kohn's throat, he assumed neither Kohn nor Bateman called police or the police did not care, and he decided to go to Indianapolis, apparently by a combination of walking and hitchhiking. Miller also engaged Officer Holt in conversation about why it had taken several days for police to contact him and said he was aware that what he had done was against the law. Officer Holt asked Miller whether he wanted to kill Kohn, and Miller replied that he did not care. He said that he accepted responsibility for what he had done and that he assumed he would go to jail and asked Officer Holt if he could bring his Bible to jail. At one point, after Officer Holt asked Miller whether he might hurt someone again in the future, Miller explained, "Some people can view human life the same way but have different outcomes because of emotion. I don't have the emotion." Id. at 15:50. Miller had a calm demeanor during the interview, spoke throughout in an even and emotionless tone of voice, and ate a candy bar and drank a soda while he talked to Officer Holt.

         [¶7] On August 14, 2014, the State charged Miller with one count of Level 1 felony attempted murder and one count of Level 3 felony aggravated battery. The charging information for attempted murder read in part that Miller "did knowingly or intentionally attempt to commit the crime of Murder, to-wit: to knowingly kill Jeremy Kohn, and Michael A. Miller did engage in conduct which constituted a substantial step toward the commission of the crime of murder, to-wit: cut Jeremy Kohn's throat with a knife . . . ." App. p. 29. The State later amended the information to reduce the battery charge to a Level 5 felony.

         [¶8] It is undisputed that Miller has a lengthy history of mental illness. His mother reported that he was oxygen-deprived during birth and began exhibiting abnormal behavior at age two, such as hyperactivity and self-isolation from other children. Miller was learning disabled, and in second grade, he began attending therapy and taking medication. Miller regularly attended therapy between the ages of nine and seventeen, when he quit because it "wasn't really going well." Tr. p. 117. As a child, Miller was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, and apparently was suspected at one point of having autism. Testing at age nine revealed Miller had brain abnormalities, although the precise nature of those abnormalities is unclear.

         [¶9] After graduating high school, Miller's behavior became more bizarre, and he was unable to hold down a job. He would often whistle, though just one note and not a melody. He would approach people and touch their faces. He would constantly tap on things. In the three years leading up to the crime, Miller was very withdrawn and isolated, and he had rarely if ever left his family's property during that time.

         [¶10] On August 15, 2014, Miller's attorney filed a notice of defense of mental disease or defect. At the end of September 2014, a court-appointed psychologist, Mark Hickman, reported to the trial court his belief that Miller was suffering from "Delusional Disorder, Paranoid Type . . . ." App. at 135. Hickman further believed that, because of this mental disorder, there was "reason to doubt both his sanity at the time of the alleged crime, as well as his current comprehension and competency to stand trial and to work with an attorney on his own defense." Id.

         [¶11] A court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Gregory Sidell, also examined Miller and submitted a report to the trial court at the end of January 2015. Dr. Sidell stated that Miller had described a "bizarre delusional system" that included hearing the voice of his grandmother, whom Miller called "a witch." Id. at 137. Miller said his grandmother controlled demons, who in turn controlled Freemasons, and that Miller was somehow under the control of a Freemason when he cut Kohn's throat. Id. at 139. Miller also related his belief that persons often mocked him, which was part of a "prophecy" that had been revealed to Miller. Id. Dr. Sidell believed that, "although [Miller was] aware at the time of the wrongful nature of his actions, [he] nevertheless appears to have been operating under the influence of a complicated psychotic delusional system, consistent with schizophrenia." Id. at 140. Dr. Sidell also believed that Miller's "ability to assist his defense counsel is very limited, because he believes counsel to be a member of the Freemasons." Id.

         [¶12] On March 16, 2015, the trial court, with the consent of both the prosecutor and defense counsel, entered an order finding Miller incompetent to stand trial and committed him to the Division of Mental Health and Addictions. Miller was transported to Logansport State Hospital ("the Hospital"), where he received treatment, including medication, for schizophrenia. On July 21, 2015, the Hospital certified to the trial court that Miller was competent to stand trial, [1] and he was transported back to the Greene County Jail to await trial.

         [¶13] On August 25, 2015, Miller filed a motion for speedy trial. The trial court scheduled a jury trial to begin on October 19, 2015, within the seventy-day speedy trial limit; the seventy-day deadline would have expired on November 3, 2015. Miller later requested a bench trial, and one was scheduled for the same date, October 19, 2015. On August 26, 2015, the trial court entered an order requiring the Hospital to produce to Miller's attorney, by September 9, 2015, all of Miller's medical and mental health records. There is no indication in the record that the Hospital failed to produce the records by that date, and/or that such records could not be or were not available to the State in a similar time frame.

         [¶14] On September 10, 2015, the State filed a motion to compel Miller to submit to an examination by a psychiatrist it had retained, Dr. David Crane. The State represented that it had "provided to Dr. Crane the relevant documents and discs in its file to assist him in his evaluation of the Defendant but is requesting a Court Order authorizing the Defendant to be evaluated by Dr. David Crane as soon as possible . . . ." Id. at 70. The trial court granted the motion to compel on September 15, 2015.

         [¶15] On September 21, 2015, the State scheduled an evaluation of Miller by Dr. Crane to be conducted on October 8, 2015. On September 22, 2015, the State filed a motion to continue the trial to allow Dr. Crane additional time to review medical records and prepare a report about Miller. Specifically, Dr. Crane wrote a letter provided to the trial court stating:

I have reviewed the material you [the prosecutor] sent regarding Michael Miller.
Based on that review, it would be extremely helpful to have records from any previous medical care he received while in Logansport, as well as, the examinations that were done by the two appointed experts.
Recognizing the potential delays in gathering this information, I would like to request a delay from the court in ...

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