A total of 10 witnesses took the stand in the third day of testimony in the Dakota Miller trial, the Hornell man pleading innocent to beating and killing Ian Maniske-Huff, his girlfriend’s child.
One of the first witnesses was the emergency room physician who assessed baby Ian at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell. After his first couple of sentences describing Ian’s condition, he said a needed a minute. The doctor had become emotional while testifying and needed to gather himself before telling the jury he’d been working in trauma for a few years and that the baby’s condition was a big reason why no one would work there.
The doctor also testified to the 17-month-old’s blown right pupil, “obliterated right hemisphere” of the brain, and bruising from head to toe. Based on his experience as a doctor, he concluded this was a result of child abuse and that none of the suggestions Dakota gave him as a reason for the injuries added up.
Another witness was a Hornell Police Patrolman who said he saw Dakota at the police department in the lobby area. The patrolman says Dakota began talking to him about what happened saying he sometimes play-bites the kids. The patrolman responded by saying he play-bites his children too but not hard enough to leave a mark.
The jury also heard a recorded phone call between Dakota and his sister Arlinda while he was in Steuben County Jail on Dec. 10, 2015. He said he’d been trying to get in touch with Codie and insisted his sister call Codie while on the phone with him. Codie picked up Arlinda’s call. At Dakota’s request, Arlinda asked Codie if she planned on staying with him. Codie said she planned on it and was trying to get a credit card to get him a cell phone plan and that she was doing this without the cops knowing. Dakota, through Arlinda, said he was sorry about Ian and that he loves her. Codie said she would write him in jail under a different name because she didn’t want to lose custody of her other child.
Dakota’s family members took the stand as well. The 24-year-old was over his mother’s house on Upper Glen Avenue in Hornell on Nov. 25, 2015 with Ian hours before the injuries were sustained.
Melissa Miller, Dakota’s mother, said Dakota and Codie came over her house with Ian and Codie’s three-year-old daughter. Melissa testified to dropping off Codie at Walmart for work before her 1:00 P.M. shift. Dakota was still at her house with her boyfriend, Robert Preston. Later in the evening when she returned home around 6:00 P.M., she took Dakota back to his residence on E. Van Scoter Street with Ian and Codie’s three-year-old daughter. She testified to the baby looking healthy with no injuries.
Robert Preston and Troy Wilson, Codie’s brother, testified. Both were at the Upper Glen Avenue home while Ian was there with Dakota and said the baby was playing and looked happy and healthy.
Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said he brought in the family to prove Ian was in good condition at the Upper Glen Avenue residence.
“Ian was absolutely healthy when he went into Dakota’s custody,” Baker said. “That was the most important thing, that none of these are preexisting injuries. There’s no way for the defendants to argue Ian got hurt someplace else or carried these bruises that were all over his body from someplace else. They saw his diaper changed. They saw him run around being happy.”
The prosecution’s goal was to continue narrowing down the timeline to the number of people who had access to the baby which had been further narrowed down to Dakota.
Louis Baker, Codie’s father and Ian’s grandfather, testified as well. Louis was in the apartment with Ian and Dakota during the two-hour period when the injuries took place. He said Dakota came home with Ian and Codie’s three-year-old daughter around 7:30 P.M. Louis was in his room playing a game on his phone and watching T.V. but said he could see the children from where he was positioned and that Ian looked fine. He testified to Dakota feeding both children and putting Ian to sleep around 8:30 P.M. in Dakota’s master bedroom which Dakota shared with Codie and Ian. Louis put Codie’s three-year-old daughter to bed then went back to his room to play the game on his phone and continue watching T.V.
He said he heard Ian whimper and thought it was a “hungry cry.” Around 9:30 P.M., he said
Dakota came out of the room with the baby’s clothes spoiled in vomit saying Ian threw up. Louis thought the baby had gotten the flu again and went to check on him. Louis testified to putting on the light and seeing some bruises on the baby’s stomach and went back to his room.
Louis said Codie got home from work around 10:45 P.M. When she went to her bedroom, he said she sounded like she “lost it” immediately after walking in. Louis went into the bedroom, saw Ian’s condition, and said to take him to the hospital immediately. Codie wrapped Ian in a blanket and took off on foot for the hospital with Dakota. Louis stayed back at the E. Van Scoter home with Codie’s three-year-old daughter.
DA Baker asked Louis if he hurt Ian. Louis broke down into tears and said he could never do that and that he did everything he could to keep him.
Codie is expected to testify on Tuesday along with medical staff from Strong Memorial Hospital plus the medical examiner which the DA said will be difficult to listen to because it will detail the alleged torture.
Court will resume at 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday.