Seven-year-old child porn case delayed again while man jailed on new child rape charge

The trial of a man ai n a child pornography case is once again delayed, this time just weeks after he's arrested on new charges of first degree rape.

ST TAMMANY PARISH -- The trial of a man facing child pornography charges from 2010 is once again on hold just weeks after he was arrested on new charges of indecent behavior and first degree rape.

According to authorities, Jackson Richard “Rick” Miller is now accused of inappropriately photographing two young girls and raping one of them over two years. The alleged crimes happened while Miller was out on bond awaiting trial for that seven-year-old child pornography case.

“The blame goes across the spectrum; it's the judge, it's the prosecutor, it's the defense attorney,” said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission, or M.C.C.  The organization recently wrapped up a multi-year, in-depth analysis of the efficiency of the criminal justice system in St. Tammany, giving it high marks.

Tuesday, Miller was in Judge August Hand's courtroom in pinstripes and shackles for a pre-trial motion hearing, two weeks before his latest trial date in the old case.  Clerk of Court records show that case has seen around 70 total delays.  Records show the reasons include judge transfers, defense attorney changes and at least a handful of prosecutor switches.

Judge Hand has been in charge of the case since 2013.  He was ranked last in the M.C.C.'s report for Judicial Accountability, namely for having the largest docket and longest case processing times.

"The ultimate referee in this is the judge," said Goyeneche, "The judge sets the culture.  The judge is responsible for making sure the parties, whether the state or defense, are not taking advantage of the process.  He's there to ensure that justice will be rendered."

The case also saw a leadership change with Former District Attorney Walter Reed in charge of prosecutions until Warren Montgomery took over in 2015.

“My administration has never requested a continuance of trial in this case, is ready for trial, and objects to any further continuance,” Montgomery’s office said in a statement to Eyewitness News. “The clerk's record reflects that there were approximately 47 continuances of the trial date. Forty-four of the 47 were requested by the defense and only three by the state under the prior administration."

However, records show that the court called for continuances as well.

One of Miller’s attorney’s said their continuance requests were buying time to cover the cost of a computer expert they believed would help them win a “very triable case.” That attorney says they were shocked by the new charges again Miller.

“The numbers of continuances in this case should be an embarrassment to the judge and to St. Tammany Parish Criminal Justice,” Goyeneche said, "If this case had been resolved because of the serious charges pending against this individual, he would have still been in jail. And if he wasn't, he would be a registered sex offender, if he had been convicted, and as such, the victims, or the parents, may have been notified and he may not have been in position to commit the charges he's been arrested for right now."

Those new charges are the reason behind the latest delay in the case.  Prior to Tuesday's hearing, Miller's attorney had requested another continuance, which the state objected to citing the age of the case.  However, once the new charges were known, the state informed Miller's attorney it would likely be including details of the new case in the trial for the old one, resulting in Miller's attorney's needing time to prepare for those new details.

Judge Hand granted the continuance, but for only a month, setting both a new pre-trial date and trial date for early September.

Also at Tuesday's hearing, Miller's bond from the 2010 case was revoked and increased from $25,000 to $500,000.  Miller’s bond for his most recent arrest is set at $1.5 million.  Miller has not made an appearance in court for his July arrest.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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