New prosecutor in Mills case

By Lee Morrison, The Times-Reporter
Posted 4/9/2009

Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer's office is stepping away from the Marsha Mills case. A special prosecutor is expected to be appointed for the ongoing appeals process because one of Mills’ defense attorneys now works for Styer.

Tuscarawas County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Ernest confirmed that an assistant Ohio attorney general will take over the case for the prosecution. Notice has been filed with the county clerk of courts that Assistant AG Emily Laube will act as counsel of record in place of Ernest. The change has not been approved by the 5th District Court of Appeals, but no objections are expected.

Mills’ co-defense attorney Amanda Miller now serves as an assistant county prosecutor. “We believe that is at least the appearance of a conflict,” said Ernest.

Additional arguments in the case will be made at two appeals hearings scheduled April 30.

The first is an appeal of county Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos’ final judgment entry denying Mills’ request for post conviction relief and for an evidentiary hearing. Fourteen of the errors cited by attorney Paula Brown pertain to alleged errors made by Mills’ trial attorneys and one to an alleged error on Thomakos’ part.

The second appeal relates to Thomakos’ judgment Sept. 11, 2008, denying Mills’ motion for reconsideration of the jury’s decision.

Mills, 58, of Dover was convicted and sentenced in June 2007 as a result of the investigation into the May 2006 death of Noah A. Shoup, 2, of New Philadelphia that occurred while Mills was baby-sitting him. A jury found her guilty of two counts of murder, felonious assault and child endangering, and she was sentenced to a life term in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years.

The prosecution maintains the boy died a violent death, while the defense maintains he died after falling down a short flight of outside steps onto concrete.

A decision on Mills’ appeal of her convictions, heard June 18 by a three-judge panel of the appellate court, is pending.