Indiana Death Row



DOB: 10-14-1947 DOC#: 911827 White Male

Porter County Superior Court
Judge Roger V. Bradford

Prosecutor: James H. Douglas, Gwen R. Rinkenberger

Defense: Ron V. Aungst, Robert S. Kentner

Date of Murder: November 14, 1990

Victim(s): Christel Helmchen W/F/19 (No relationship to Miller)

Method of Murder: shooting with shotgun

Summary: At 1:30 a.m. Valporaiso Police discovered that Christel Helmchen, the attendant at the White Hen Pantry on Calumet Avenue was missing. A few hours later, her body was found near Highway #6 with evidence of sexual assault and severe injuries to her pubic area and anal canal. The cause of death was a shotgun wound to the head. Helmchen's checkbook was later found in Miller's driveway. Miller's stepson, Rodney Wood, had lived with Miller at that address for 3 months, and during that time committed numerous burglaries and thefts. Wood and his friend, William Harmon, were arrested in Kentucky in a stolen car that contained clothing belonging to Helmchen. Wood entered into a plea agreement whereby the State would not pursue a Death Sentence in exchange for a statement. In the statement, Wood admitted that he, Miller, and Harmon had discussed robbing the White Hen, and that Harmon told them he had found a remote place to take the clerk where they could rape her and kill her. Miller drove Wood and Harmon to the White Hen and waited in the car while Wood and Harmon went inside, robbed the clerk at gunpoint, and escorted her to her car. Wood drove Helmchen's car and Miller followed to Highway #6. Harmon gagged and tied her and she was then dragged to a construction site. Miller fondled her, threw her to the floor and ordered Wood to have sex with her, which he did. Miller instructed Wood and Harmon to tie her upright to a wall and Miller beat her with his fists. Harmon struck her with the shotgun. Miller then beat her with a 2 X 4 and stuck her with an ice pick in the thigh and breast. Upon Miller's direction, Wood and Harmon retrieved a tire iron and inserted it into her rectum while Miller watched. Miller and Wood then walked to the car. Harmon followed Helmchen out, put the shotgun to the back of her head and fired. An ISP hair examiner identified pubic hairs from Miller on the body of the victim.

Trial: Information/PC for Murder and DP filed (11-19-90); Motion for Early Trial (12-18-90); Amended Information filed (02-22-91); Voir Dire (04-01-91, 04-02-91, 04-03-91, 04-04-91, 04-05-91); Jury Trial (04-08-91, 04-09-91, 04-10-91, 04-11-91, 04-12-91, 04-13-91, 04-15-91, 04-16-91, 04-17-91); Verdict (04-17-91); DP Trial (04-18-91); Verdict (04-18-91); Court Sentencing (05-20-91).

Conviction: Murder, Confinement (B Felony), Rape (A Felony), CDC (A Felony), Robbery (A Felony), Conspiracy to Commit Murder (A Felony)

Sentencing: May 20, 1991 (Death Sentence, 20 years, 50 years, 50 years, 50 years, 50 years)

Aggravating Circumstances: b (1) Rape, CDC, Robbery; b(9) On parole

Mitigating Circumstances: Behaved well as a prisoner for 19 years, kind and helpful to roommate and child, during childhood did not display sadistic tendencies, sensitive and caring individual, stepdaughter allowed him to babysit

Direct Appeal:
Miller v. State, 623 N.E.2d 403 (Ind. October 26, 1993)
Conviction Affirmed 5-0 DP Affirmed 4-1
Givan Opinion; Shepard, Debruler, Krahulik concur; Dickson dissents.

PCR Petition filed 03-17-95. PCR denied 07-22-96 by Special Judge Raymond D. Kickbush.
Miller v. State, 702 N.E.2d 1053 (Ind. 1998)
(Appeal of PCR denial by Special Judge Kickbush)
Affirmed 5-0. Sullivan Opinion; Shepherd, Dickson, Selby, Boehm concur.

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed 08-17-99 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana.
Writ denied 08-17-99 by U.S. District Court Judge Allen Sharp.

Miller v. Anderson, 255 F.3d 455 (7th Cir. June 29, 2001).
(Appeal of habeas denial; REVERSED 3-0; Habeas granted as to conviction and sentence on grounds of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to call as witnesses hair and DNA experts, and in calling psychologist which allowed impeachment by Miller's prior convictions. State ordered to retry or release Miller within 120 days).
Opinion by Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, Judge Kenneth F. Ripple.

On Remand:
On August 7, 2001, Miller entered a guilty plea to the charges pursuant to a Plea Agreement calling for a 138 year sentence, and was sentenced by Porter County Superior Court Judge Roger V. Bradford to consecutive terms of 60 years (Murder), 50 years (Conspiracy to Murder), 20 years (Confinement), and 8 years (Robbery).

As of July 1, 2006

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