STARKE COUNTY, Ind. — A Starke County judge on Tuesday sentenced Justin Miller for the August 2021 killing of 11-month-old Mercedes Lain.
Miller, 37, pleaded guilty to murder in December.
The judge accepted Miller’s plea and sentenced him to 65 years, the maximum he could receive.
Miller previously told the court he was babysitting Lain and under the influence of drugs when he got into an argument with his girlfriend, upsetting Lain and making her cry.
He said he backhanded Lain to make her be quiet, causing her head to hit a wall. He said Lain was given a bottle to calm her down, but she became agitated when the argument between Miller and his girlfriend resumed. Miller said he hit Lain again, and she “went back down.”
Miller told a judge that when he woke up the next morning, Lain was dead. He took her body to Starke County and buried her in the woods.
An autopsy determined Lain died of blunt force injuries to the head. Her death was ruled a homicide.