A Starke County judge has appointed a special prosecutor to take over the Mercedes Lain murder case.
Charges were filed Monday against Justin Miller. He’s accused of killing the 11-month-old girl and then dumping her body in a wooded area of Starke County.
The special prosecutor won’t have to travel far to try this case. Starke County Judge Kim Hall appointed Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman to take over.
Chipman has been overseeing this investigation since the 11-month-old was first reported missing.
Her parents left their daughter in the care of Justin Miller so they could have a break for the weekend. When he didn’t return with the baby, Mercedes’s parents reported her missing, which set off a massive search by state and local police along with the FBI.
Miller and Mercedes’s parents were arrested on neglect charges and were uncooperative in helping find her.
A few days later, her body was found in a deeply wooded area in rural Starke County.
Miller told police he woke up at his girlfriend’s house in Mishawaka and the baby was dead. Court documents indicate he then wrapped her up and dumped her in the woods.
An autopsy found the girl died from blunt force injuries to the head and her death was ruled a homicide.
As we previously reported, there was a difference of opinion on where to file murder charges since events took place in three different counties. But the decision was made to do it in Starke County.
Chipman made it clear he wanted to prosecute the case, and Starke County’s prosecutor filed a motion for a special prosecutor due to a possible appearance of impropriety, although what impropriety has not been spelled out.
Chipman will take over the case, and told us he believes that’s the best way to get Justice for Mercedes.
No change of venue motion has been filed at this point, so the case will still be tried here in Starke County.
At last check, no future court dates have been scheduled at this time.