Deputy prosecutor gives detailed account of homicide during first day of trial for Todd Stewart
GOSHEN — Mark Miller's family noticed the strange way his business partner, Todd Stewart, was acting in the days after Miller went missing.
Deputy prosecutor Don Pitzer gave the jury a glimpse into the evidence collected during Miller's homicide investigation Monday, April 28, in Elkhart Circuit Court.
Miller, 44, went missing Sept. 7, 2012. He was last seen at his tattoo shop along U.S. 33 in Dunlap. His body was found Sept. 20, stuffed in a barrel that was floating down the St. Joseph River.
Miller had a gunshot in the back of his head. His legs were shot with a shotgun in order to break them, so they could fit in the barrel, Pitzer told the jury.
Stewart was arrested on a warrant six months later and was charged with murder. He faces up to 65 years in prison if convicted.
Pitzer told the jury that Miller's family had started noticing the strange way Stewart was behaving in the days that followed Miller's disappearance. One family member saw Stewart and another woman laughing and "having a good time" at the tattoo shop shortly after they had received news about Miller being missing.
The deputy prosecutor listed the witnesses who will testify in the next few days, including friends and acquaintances of Miller and Stewart, detectives and a forensic pathologist.
Stewart, who was in the process of buying a truck from a friend of his, also told his friend he didn't want the truck anymore after they heard about Miller's disappearance. The day after he told his friend he didn't want the truck anymore, Stewart changed his mind.
Pitzer also listed as a witness a man who worked at the tattoo shop with Miller and Stewart and who was in another room when he heard what sounded like a slap. He looked outside to find Stewart with a gun in his hand and Miller laying on the floor. Stewart had threatened the witness about speaking to police.
The defense waived opening statements.
The jury was selected by 4:30 p.m. Following the deputy prosecutor's opening statement, the judge received a note from a juror who said he knew two of the officers working in the sheriff's department.
The juror was dismissed and replaced by an alternate juror.
The trial starts again Tuesday, April 29, at 8:30 a.m.