Man pleads not guilty in death of girl

By The Associated Press

PLYMOUTH — A man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a neglect charge in the death of an 11-month-old northern Indiana girl found dead in a wooded area.

Justin Miller, 37, of Hamlet faces one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in death after leading police to Mercedes Lain’s body last week.

Miller entered the non-guilty plea in a Marshall County courtroom and was appointed a public defender.

The girl's death has been ruled a homicide. Mercedes from blunt force injuries to the head, Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said Monday.

The girl’s body was found Aug. 18 in a densely wooded area of Starke County near the Marshall County line.

Mercedes’ parents, Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn, also face neglect charges. Court records say Miller is a relative of the parents.

Chipman has said Kenneth Lain left Mercedes with Miller at a Plymouth motel Aug. 13 to babysit for the weekend so he and Coburn could have “a few days break from their child." But after Miller did not bring the toddler back as planned the following Sunday, her parents reported her missing to police, he said.

Miller told officers he had used synthetic marijuana several times during the time he had Mercedes in his care.

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