Dakota Miller found guilty on 2 of 4 counts, reaction from family and attorneys

Local News

After more than three hours of deliberations, jurors unanimously found Dakota Miller guilty on two of four counts including second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son, Ian Maniske-Huff.

Before deliberations took place, the defense presented its closing argument which lasted about 20 minutes trying to paint Codie and Louis Baker as the aggressors saying Codie took her anger out on the baby after being frustrated about having to work while pregnant.

The prosecution’s closing argument lasted roughly 70 minutes. Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker showed the jury a printed timeline of Codie’s testimony with the time next to each of her activities starting from her 10:45 P.M. arrival home from work. DA Baker explained how her testimony matched the medical staff’s testimony on the couple’s 11:56 P.M. hospital arrival.

DA Baker then showed the jury Miller’s timeline testimony which included his new story of his almost hour-long marijuana break outside the home. The marijuana break is when Miller claimed Ian was injured. The DA showed the jury that this would have meant the couple got to the hospital 12-27 minutes after the clocked 11:56 P.M. arrival time.

The prosecution also mentioned the doctor who testified to the gaping cut in Ian’s rectum that was consistent with sexual abuse suggesting Dakota raped Ian too.

Jurors then head into their room for deliberations.

After the verdict came down, Ian’s family members headed outside hugging, crying, and embracing one another then released four blue balloons in the air as a sign of justice being reached for them.

“We finally got some answers and we finally got justice for Ian after two years of waiting and not knowing,” Jennifer McGregor, Ian’s second cousin, said. “It’s still going to be hard, and there’s still, of course, questions on why and how could something like this happen. We feel a little bit better now.”

“I’m very pleased that we have justice for Ian today,” Baker said. “That was the goal when we started this case. We thought it was a murder case from minute one, and it was a murder case. That’s what the jury found.”

The defense felt differently.

“I think somebody got away with murder in Steuben County, and obviously, it wasn’t Dakota Miller,” Thomas Stahr, Miller’s defense attorney, said.

The family says they have a folder saved with all articles from the trial plus their own journals detailing their emotions from day one. If asked for it, they plan to give it to the two children (Codie’s three-year-old daughter without Miller and their one-year-old son together) to read when they are old enough to form their own opinion on what happened. Codie’s aunt currently has custody of both children. 

The two counts Miller was found not guilty on were aggravated murder and first-degree murder. The family and prosecution were hoping to convict Miller on these counts too because they include higher convictions, but with the verdict brought down on Thursday, Miller can still face 25 years to life on the second-degree murder charge alone. The manslaughter count serves up to 20 years. Both will be served concurrently.

Sentencing is set for the day after Labor Day on Tuesday, September 5 at 9:00 A.M.

A notice of appeal is expected to be filed that day or the following day according to Stahr, but he says neither him nor Terrance Baxter, Miller’s other defense attorney, will be on the council for that.

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