Court documents detail injuries, alleged abuse in death of 9-year-old boy
Body showed cuts, bruises and swelling when Elijah arrived at hospital
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - The woman accused of criminal activity that led to the death of a 9-year-old boy in her home made her first appearance in court on Wednesday morning, and documents filed in the case offer new insight into what happened.
Alesha Miller -- described as the boy’s stepmother -- faces three counts of neglect of a dependent (one of them with the stipulation that the neglect resulted in death) and a single count of aggravated battery. All four counts are felonies.
Miller, 30, was arrested on Tuesday. That evening, dozens of people took part in a memorial staged outside Elijah’s Putnam Street home.
Police said the investigation shows that Miller drove to Lutheran Hospital in the early morning hours on Saturday, Dec. 18, with Elijah in the back seat of her SUV. The boy’s mother, Jenna Miller, was also in the vehicle, the probable cause affidavit shows. The boy is described as “cold and limp... and rigor mortis was starting to settle into his body, according to the medical staff.”
Documents note bruises to Elijah’s arms and face, “major bruising” to the lower back and buttocks and a “small cut/laceration at the base of the victim’s penis.”
Elijah died at 2:09 a.m. -- less than an hour after his arrival. The coroner determined that he had sustained severe “blunt force injuries.”
Officers spoke with Alesha Miller and recorded the interview, and that she claimed that a fight involving Elijah and his brothers broke out while the parents were at a Christmas party. She allegedly said the fight escalated, with an older sibling shoving Elijah into a bookcase. Shortly thereafter, Alesha Miller said, “she gave the victim CPR and he vomited ‘brown stuff.’ She stated she turned him on his side and more ‘brown stuff’ came out.”
The affidavit says that is when they drove to the hospital.
At the family’s home, police collected items including a leather-like belt and “a large wooden paddle” as evidence. The handle of the paddle had been broken off, they said, “and it had (a) jagged, almost knife-shaped end” to it.
Alesha Miller was re-interviewed on Monday and, according to police, stated that she “whooped the victim on the butt with a belt three times on three different occasions,” and had taken other disciplinary action. The affidavit states that Alesha Miller one time used water to “resuscitate” Elijah.
Detectives also spoke repeatedly with Jenna Miller, and said she explained to them that “Alesha is the one who continuously kept whooping” Elijah. The affidavit continues:
She stated that when they got home (from the party) a witness and the victim were still fighting. She stated that after the boys stopped fighting, Alesha started whooping the victim with a wooden paddle that has writing on it and that the handle has been broken off. She stated that the said defendant was holding the victim down with her legs and she was hitting him multiple times. She stated that the victim went limp and they thought he was playing dead. She stated that the whoopings would start and stop. She stated that the said defendant said, ‘she can’t stop because he wants her dead.’”
The Court has set a hearing for Alesha Miller for Dec. 29. Jenna Miller has not been charged.
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