Briefs filed in Mills case allege errors

By Lee Morrison, The Times-Reporter
Posted 11/18/2008

Two briefs have been filed in the 5th District Court of Appeals at Canton on behalf of Marsha Mills, outlining alleged errors that led to her conviction in a murder case.

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 as Mills baby-sat him. A jury found Mills 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.

One of the briefs, filed Tuesday, offers the written arguments by Mills’ attorneys following up on an appeal filed Sept. 26 over Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos’ decision denying a request to vacate the jury’s guilty findings.

Prosecutors also are to file written arguments before the matter is set for oral argument.

The judge ruled that “the defendant has cited no legal authority in support of the motion for reconsideration.”

One brief claims errors of assignment in the case, including:

– The trial court erred when it denied Mills’ motion for reconsideration of its entry denying post conviction relief, and erred in denying an evidentiary hearing.

The other brief states, in part:

– Trial counsel was ineffective in several ways, including questioning of witnesses, failure to object to several points and failure to remove a juror who said it would be “difficult for me to be real fair.”

– The trial court erred when it denied Mills’ request to conduct discovery.

– The trial court erred when it refused to admit Dr. John Plunkett’s curriculum vitae into evidence. He was the defense’s forensic pathology expert.

Mills’ attorneys ask that the appeals court reverse the decision of the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court and “order either that the charges be dismissed, the case be remanded for a new trial, or that the case be remanded to conduct discovery and an evidentiary hearing.”

Two other appeals are pending with the court.

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.