Prosecutors seek to dismiss request to vacate conviction

By Renee Brown, The Times-Reporter
Posted 5/24/2008

Tuscarawas County prosecutors are urging Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos to disregard a request by attorneys for Marsha Mills to vacate her convictions.

In his reply filed Thursday, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Ernest stated no evidence was presented by Mills' attorneys to justify such a move.

Mills' attorneys cited 15 reasons Mills should be granted a new trial ­ 14 of those because of alleged errors made by trial counsel and one because of an alleged error on Thomakos' part. Everything from erroneous juror selection to incomplete questioning of witnesses is listed as having violated Mills' rights because of ineffective assistance of counsel.

The matter is expected to be considered by Thomakos the week of June 2. Although Mills' attorneys have requested a hearing, none is scheduled. Ernest said no hearing is necessary.

Ernest stated that the petition for post-conviction relief must be denied, either because the issues already has been decided by Thomakos or because Mills' attorneys have raised identical issues in Mills' direct appeal. The direct appeal is set for oral argument June 17 before the 5th District Court of Appeals.

Mills, 57, of Dover was convicted in June of murder, child endangering and felonious assault as a result of the investigation into the May 2006 death of Noah A. Shoup, 2, of New Philadelphia that occurred as Mills baby-sat him.

Prosecutors maintain the boy died a violent death, while the defense claims the boy died after falling down a short flight of outside steps onto concrete. Mills is serving a life sentence with parole eligibility after 15 years are served.