New trial set in May for West Branch man who appealed manslaughter conviction

New trial May 13

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A West Branch man who was granted an appeal last December for his conviction in the 2007 death of his 3-month-old daughter will be retried May 13 in Linn County District Court.

Curtis A. Miller, 33, sentenced to 50 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death, appealed his convictions based on "jury separation and juror substitution" during deliberations. Following his three-week trial, and after two days of deliberations, the court allowed a juror to leave for a family funeral.

Miller asked the court twice for a mistrial because the juror started deliberations, but then left and one of the alternates took his place.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled the court should have granted Miller's motions for mistrial because the court allowed the juror to leave deliberations and couldn't determine when deliberations would resume.

Miller agreed to the alternate juror rather than wait for an indeterminate amount of time for deliberations to resume.

Miller didn't waive his right to appeal the mistrial rulings by agreeing to the substitute juror, according to the ruling.

Miller's daughter Kimisha died Oct. 11, 2007, from rotational-inflicted head trauma, according to trial testimony. About 19 medical doctors testified that Kimisha had suffered a skull fracture, extensive retinal hemorrhaging, subdural hemorrhaging of the brain, wrist fractures and bruising to her forehead and right cheek. The doctors testified the injuries were the classic remnants of child abuse.

The defense maintained, as its single expert witness testified, that Kimisha could have sustained those injuries by falling off a bed.

Miller's attorneys claimed the injuries resulted when the child fell off a bed two weeks before she was hospitalized on Sept. 20, 2007. Defense attorneys also argued investigators had not thoroughly investigated another man who was in the house at the time, whom they claimed caused the child's injuries.

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