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Last updated on Friday, April 20, 2012
(SALEM) - The Census worker charged with raping a handicapped Pekin woman in the spring of 2010 was sentenced Thursday in Washington Superior Court.
Daniel Miller, 38, was sentenced to 40 years with five suspended, by Judge Frank Newkirk Jr. after entering a blind plea to A felony burglary and B felony rape. A blind plea means the defendant admits guilt.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, of the Leader-Democrate reports, Miller has been held in the Washington County Detention Center on a $150,000 full cash bond since his arrest.
Prosecutor Dustin Houchin says Miller is expected to serve a minimum of 17 years through the Indiana Department of Correction, "assuming everything goes right for him." In Indiana, prisoners receive a day's credit for each day they serve behind bars with good behavior.
Houchin was pleased with the sentence, given that 30 years is the advisory on the charges. "We argued for a heavily aggravated sentence. With an offense so serious and so heinous, I think the community expected a serious sentence. I think it's an appropriate sentence the judge handed down."
The crime occurred in the early morning hours of May 8, 2010. Miller was working for the Census Bureau and several days prior to the crime had visited the victim's home.
"That planted the seed for this to happen," Houchin told the court during the sentencing hearing. "He became aware of her as a Census worker and came back. That's my belief."
The victim was a disabled young woman, who is now 20. She has cerebral palsy and her mother told the court she functions on the level of a 4 or 5 year old.
After being attacked and raped, the young woman crawled to her mother's room, calling for her. The victim suffered scratches on her neck and a facial abrasion. Crying, she told her mother a man in her bedroom had choked her.
When the victim's mother got up, she found the front and back doors of the home open. Miller left in haste - in the nude - leaving his clothes scattered on the woman's bedroom floor. Officers found a wallet containing Miller's driver's license among the clothing.
They later located Miller at his Eastern Heights Apartment in Pekin. They found an item of the victim's clothing inside his Geo Tracker.
The victim's mother testified on behalf of her daughter during the sentencing hearing, which began April 13 and concluded today.
Miller also took the stand, as did several members of his family. They focused on his blemish-free background; Miller has no prior offenses.
"That was one significant factor for the defense," said Houchin. The state argued that "the offense was so serious and had such an aggravating factor with the victim being disabled that that overwhelmed any mitigating factors"
Miller blamed alcohol for his actions the night of the crime.
He had spent the evening drinking at the Pop-A-Top tavern in Pekin, leaving around 10:30 p.m. He said he bought six beers and someone gave him a seventh. He told the court he believed someone had put a drug in that final beer, which caused his later behavior.
"I think that's absurd," said Houchin. "I don't think the judge accepted that version."
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