The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:00 am

Sentencing moved up in Tinsley case

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

The man who admitted last week to killing and sexually assaulting 8-year-old April Tinsley in 1988 will be sentenced Dec. 21.

John D. Miller pleaded guilty Friday to murder and child molesting, and a sentencing hearing had been set for Dec. 31.

Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck will retire that day, and he said Tuesday he moved up the hearing to ensure it would not be delayed past his retirement.

April's body was found in a ditch in 1988, three days after she was abducted from her south-side neighborhood.

“This case needs to get done,” Surbeck said.

A plea agreement calls for an 80-year sentence for Miller, but April's mother Tuesday reiterated calls for her daughter's killer to be executed.

Janet Tinsley said she disagrees with Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards' move to accept a plea agreement in the case. Tinsley said she would have preferred that the case go to trial, eschewing concerns that she and her family would have to re-live her daughter's slaying by hearing details in court.

Tinsley said she met at least twice since November with officials from the prosecutor's office and challenged each time the decision to accept a plea. She pushed for Richards to seek the death penalty, Tinsley said, echoing comments she made to The Journal Gazette after Miller was arrested in July.

“I kept telling the prosecutor, 'I understand where you're coming from (with the plea agreement),' but I'm not agreeing to it,” she said. “I want to see him fried.”

Richards has declined to comment on the case.

Police used DNA evidence and publicly available genealogy records to connect Miller to the crime. He was arrested July 15 at his home in a trailer park on Main Street in Grabill.

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