Archived Story

Miller won’t likely face more than year in jail

Published 12:58pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Martell Miller will likely receive no more than a year in jail for his involvement in the Niles teen sex video extortion scandal.

Miller

Miller, who was awaiting the jury selection for his trial all day Tuesday, reached a plea deal Wednesday morning in South Berrien County Courthouse.

He pleaded guilty to attempted assault with intent to cause great bodily harm less than murder, a five-year felony, and assault and battery, a misdemeanor.

All of his original charges were dropped, including two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of third-degree criminal equal conduct and a count of extortion.

Defense attorney Shannon Sible said given that his client has no prior criminal record, his sentencing guidelines will warrant a local jail sentence and no prison time. The maximum term he could receive is a year in county jail.

Miller’s bond was revoked and his sentencing slated for Jan. 30.

Miller and his four co-defendants are accused of — in vary degrees of involvement — videotaping a then 17-year-old girl having sex with one of them and threatening to post the video on Facebook unless she performed sex acts with them.

Most of Tuesday morning was spent continuing to question potential jurors about their knowledge and possible biases in the case. After all the jurors were quizzed and after a one-hour recess, Sible and Assistant Berrien County Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli announced they had reached the agreement.

Pierangeli said he wasn’t completely satisfied with the agreement but took into account the feelings of the victims in the plea deal.

“I have talked extensively with the victims,” he said after the court proceedings Wednesday. “It got to the point where the process was as traumatic as the offense itself. I’m happy the victims can put this behind them and begin the healing process.”

During the proceedings Wednesday, Miller admitted to driving co-defendants Martise Washington and Parnell Martin around Niles while they forced a then 17-year-old girl into sex acts in March.

He also admitted to assaulting a girl in Niles High School by “grabbing her should without her permission” in February.

An original charge of possession of child pornography was not bound over for trial, as the judge ruled there was not enough evidence that Miller possessed the sex video that was used in the extortion scandal.

Miller must have had a change of heart Wednesday because he had been offered plea deals several times before but said he wanted to “prove his innocence” at a hearing earlier this month.

Co-defendants Martin, Leon Murphy and Trey Nichols have all reached plea deals as well and face sentencings in the coming weeks. Washington, the only defendant to go to trial, was found guilty on all seven charges and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison this week.

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