Testimony Day 2: Blood discovered above baby’s sleeping area in Dakota Miller trial

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The second day of testimony took place in the Dakota Miller trial, the man accused of beating his girlfriend’s 17-month-old baby to death.

A total of nine witnesses testified on Friday, with the first being Hornell Police Investigator Tom Aini, the same investigator who testified on Thursday.

He said he took buccal swab DNA samples, which are cheek swabs, from Dakota, Codie, Louis, and Codie’s three-year-old daughter on Nov. 28, 2015. The incident took place on Nov. 25, 2015. These four individuals were living under the same roof as baby Ian Maniske-Huff.

The second witness was another registered nurse at St. James Mercy Hospital who was one of the first medical staffers to assess and examine baby Ian. She testified to his “head to toe” bruising, said he was unresponsive and demonstrated his “unpurposeful” arm movements which translated to severe damage to the brain or other major organs like the lungs or heart.

She added that Codie was hysterical hovering over her child and had to ask the mother to step away a couple of times. Dakota was in the background in and out of the room. The RN said he was not displaying much emotion and was maybe a little teary-eyed at first.

The nurse says the general question in the room by the medical team and doctor was, “What happened?”

According to the nurse, Dakota responded by saying the baby consumed “bad ham” and Ian’s three-year-old sister sometimes plays rough with her brother. The RN said the injuries were not consistent with consuming bad meat nor consistent to the extent of rough child play. She also said Codie mentioned a board fell on the 17-month-old’s head a few days prior.

The third witness, a patient technician at St. James Mercy Hospital, became emotional and cried as she described the baby’s condition upon his arrival.

The remaining six witnesses were members of law enforcement.

NYSP investigators from the Forensic Investigation Unit in Canandaigua took the stand and said they captured photos of the scene (the residence on E. Van Scoter Street) and collected items for evidence in the master bedroom, which Dakota and Codie shared, such as a baby bottle, a onesie with suspected blood on it, a black metal item, among others. This bedroom was the only “remarkable” area of the home according to police. 

Investigators said they sprayed the wall above baby Ian’s pack ‘n play, which is located in Dakota and Codie’s master bedroom, with leuco crystal violet spray which can detect if blood was originally on the wall and wiped off. This spray can be used to see if a crime scene was covered up. Two spots on the wall turned violet as a result of interaction with the spray which means blood was originally there.

During cross-examination, the defense argued that the blood could have been there for an unspecified amount of time and even belong to an animal. The investigator said this was possible.

“We wanted to make the jury know that that could’ve been there for 10 years, and it could’ve been a parakeet that flew into the wall,” Defense Lawyer Thomas Stahr said. “All that tells us is that there’s something up there that contains hemoglobin.”

The blood samples were sent to a NSYP lab in Albany for testing.

The prosecution also presented video to the jury of Dakota being interviewed by NYSP soon after Ian was airlifted to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The defense added that the police did not read Dakota’s his rights prior to asking questions. Video shows law enforcement told Dakota later on that he could leave at anytime. 

Jurors heard Dakota tell police in the video that he was with Codie’s three-year-old daughter and Ian over his mother’s house, also located in Hornell, until 6:00 P.M. on Nov. 25, 2015 – the night Ian was beaten. Around 6:30 P.M., his mother dropped him off with the two kids at his E. Van Scoter Street residence where Louis Baker, Codie’s father, was home. Dakota’s parole did not allow him to be alone with the children. Codie was still at work at Walmart.

The defendant told police that when he came home, he found Louis in his room on his phone playing a game, and that he’s always on his phone. Dakota said he made the kids dinner: a ham sandwich for Ian and ravioli for Codie’s three-year-old daughter. He adds the three-year-old was playing rough with Ian on the floor. 

He says the ham was “bad” because Ian ending up throwing up. Dakota says he cleaned up the baby and put him to bed around 8:30 P.M. The defendant said he went to bed afterwards.

It wasn’t until Codie got home around 10:45 P.M. when she heard her child breathing uncomfortably in his pack ‘n play and took off for the hospital when she could not wake him. 

Police asked Dakota why he did not question Louis about what he was doing in the apartment during that roughly two-hour period from when he put the baby to bed around 8:30 P.M. until Codie’s return home from work around 10:45 P.M. 

Also in the recording, jurors heard Dakota tell police he would never put his hands on a child after his stepdad beat him growing up, and that while he was in prison in the past, he dealt with child molesters who touched their own kids.

Before the video ended, police asked Dakota if there was anything else he needed to tell them because once the dental impressions were taken, it would be straightforward to see if the bite marks on Ian’s body were done by a little girl, adult male, or adult female… that the physical evidence would “speak for itself.”

Codie and Louis are expected to testify next week. Court resumes on Monday at 9:00 A.M. 

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