Former census worker sentenced to 35 years in rape case

Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller
Miller's mom being taken after suffering a seizure.
Miller's mom being taken after suffering a seizure.

SALEM, IN (WAVE) - It was an emotional afternoon in court Thursday as a census worker who raped a mentally disabled woman learned his fate.

41-year-old Daniel Miller took a blind plea deal: A guilty plea with the possibility of probation or as much as 50 years in prison.

"I guess it will never take back what happened to my sister and we'll never completely understand why it happened," said Shiela Walts.

Walts is reacting as Miller is sentenced to 35 years in prison and another 5 years of probation after pleading guilty to raping Walts' then 21-year-old mentally and physically disabled sister at their Pekin, Indiana home in 2010.

As the judge gave Miller his punishment, his mother was so upset she suffered a seizure in the courtroom.

Miller, a census employee, went to the girl's home three days before the rape and burglary telling her mother he needed more information about them.

"My mom had explained to him that she did send in the census form and I believe if it wasn't for the census bureau this would never have happened because he found the perfect victim which my mom and my sister are," Walts explained, "they're both disabled and neither of them drive and they live alone.

Miller claimed he got so drunk at a local bar he didn't remember breaking into the home or the rape. The judge didn't buy it.

Washington County Indiana Prosecutor Dustin Houchin told WAVE 3 News, "An offense like this on someone who's so disabled is in my mind and clearly in the judge's mind, enough to levy a heavy sentence."

"He never looked at my mother or sister," Walts said, "or apologized for anything he ever did."

The toughest part for Walts, when her sister who suffers from autism, mild retardation, and cerebral palsy saw her attacker in court. "She just froze and said, that's a bad man and I said yes it is," Walts remembered, "and when we walked out of the courtroom, she just broke down and sobbed."

Walts told WAVE 3 News, her family didn't want someone like Miller out on the street, "I'm glad he got what he got."

Superior Court Judge Frank Newkirk also sentenced Miller to 10 years on the burglary charge but, it's to be served along with the rape sentence. The prosecutor tells us, Miller will begin serving his prison time in just a few days.

Miller's defense attorney plans to appeal.

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