Defense lawyer says information in Professor Miller's murder case withheld

Winston Corbett

GOSHEN — A hearing to present charges to the suspect in the murder of a Goshen College professor opened with complaints about the decision to block public access to details of the case.

Winston Corbett, 23, Goshen appeared in Elkhart County Circuit Court Thursday for an initial hearing where he acknowledged he’s charged with one count of murder and a Level 1 felony count of attempted murder.

Corbett was arrested Oct. 28, accused of attacking and killing Goshen College Professor James Miller during a burglary at Miller’s home in Goshen in October 2011. Corbett, who was 16 years old at the time, is also accused of seriously injuring Miller’s wife Linda in the attack.

At the beginning of Thursday’s hearing, Corbett’s attorney, Peter Britton, told the court he hadn’t been able to access the case online through Indiana’s Odyssey case management system to file his appearance as the attorney of record.

“There’s no case I have access to as an attorney on the Odyssey system,” Britton said.

A search by name for Corbett’s case in the days after his arrest produced no results on the public version of Odyssey online at www.MyCase.IN.gov. Case information was available online by Thursday, the day of the hearing.

During an Oct. 30 news conference announcing Corbett’s arrest, Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker said the probable cause affidavit — a document with details to support the arrest of a suspect in a case — was sealed as the investigation is still underway.

During Corbett’s hearing, Becker suggested court staff might have blocked access to the entire case while complying with the court order to seal the affidavit and other information.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno disagreed, believing the case went “black” as an issue with the Odyssey system, not court staff.

Britton, meanwhile, sought an order to be allowed access to the affidavit and documents the state has filed in the case so he can prepare a defense for Corbett. Christofeno granted the motion while saying he would look into the Odyssey issue. Britton and Becker also traded nods in an agreement for providing case records for the defense.

Public access to the affidavit remains sealed.

During the hearing, Christofeno entered a not-guilty plea on Corbett’s behalf and explained the murder charge carries a sentence that can range from 45 years to 65 years in prison. The penalty for a Level 1 felony charge ranges from 20 to 40 years.

Christofeno also scheduled March 18, 2019 as the date for Corbett’s trial.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aimee.ambrose@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 316.

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