GOSHEN — The trial date for a man accused of killing tattoo shop owner Mark Miller has been rescheduled for January.
Todd Stewart, 35, of Bristol, is charged with murder and faces a sentence of up to 65 years in prison. His trial, originally scheduled Sept. 9, is slated for Jan. 6, 2014, as a top case on the schedule. His trial status conference will be held Dec. 19.
Clifford Williams, Stewart’s attorney, requested the trial date be rescheduled because he needed more time to prepare for the trial, he told the court. The prosecuting attorney did not object to the request.
Miller’s body was found stuffed in a barrel floating down the St. Joseph River near C.R. 17 on Sept. 20, 2012. Stewart was arrested following an eight-month investigation by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.
Miller, the owner of a tattoo shop on U.S. 33 in Dunlap, was last seen in his shop Sept. 7, 2012.
A witness told police Stewart shot Miller that night. That same witness said he helped Stewart load the barrel containing Miller body onto Stewart’s truck.
During the police investigation, Stewart gave information about his whereabouts the night of Sept. 7, when Miller went missing. Stewart told police he last saw Miller at about 11 p.m. when he left the tattoo shop.
But investigators found several inconsistencies between Stewart’s statements and the evidence.
Stewart had been previously convicted in a couple of battery offenses. In 2001 he pleaded guilty to battery. In 2007, Stewart pleaded guilty to battery as a lesser offense after he was charged with battery in the physical presence of a child less than 16 years of age, a Class D felony.