Probation ordered in Niles 'sextortion' case
Niles teen benefits from victims' reluctance to testify
Martell Miller, the last of Niles teens to be sentenced for his role in a sex video extortion case, makes a statement apologizing to the court and the victim during his sentencing at Berrien County Trial Court in Niles Monday, January 30, 2012. Miller denied the sexual assault charge. Miller received a 3-year probation sentence. (South Bend Tribune/MARVUS MARTER) (January 30, 2012) (April 11, 2013)
Although Judge Scott Schofield and Berrien Assistant Prosecutor Steve Pierangelia both said he deserved to go to prison like his co-defendants, Martell Miller, 18, of Niles, was ordered to three years of probation, with the first year to be spent in the county jail. He’ll receive credit for 134 days already served.
Pierangeli told reporters Miller benefited by being the last of the defendants to be sentenced. Referring to his plea-bargain arrangement as “the best of the bargain offers,’’ he pointed to the reluctance of the victims to testify against him.
“The victims have been through enough ... (they) couldn't’ deal with it anymore,’’ he said.
Jury selection had been under way in Miller’s case when he accepted the deal, agreeing to plead guilty to at-tempted assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder — a five-year felony — and assault and battery. The last charge stemmed from an incident at Niles High School in which he allegedly attempted to engage a girl in a sex act and the first was tied to his actions 10 months ago when he allegedly performed a sex act on a different girl while she was in a car with his friends.
The latter victim had willingly engaged in sex four days earlier with Martise Washington, a friend of Miller who received a minimum 20-year prison term. Trey Nichols, who received a minimum three-year term, helped set up the recording that Washington, Miller, Parnell Martin and Leon Murphy threatened to post to Facebook unless she per-formed additional sex acts.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Miller participated in the assault of the latter victim the night of March 18, he denied it in court today. But conversely he also apologized to the victim, making him the first of the five to do so.
“I’m not a sex offender. ... I didn’t sexually assault anyone,’’ he said, fighting back tears.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: