Capital murder trial set for late January

WOODSTOCK — The capital murder case of Nicole Dawn Miller was scheduled Wednesday for most of the last weeks in January in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp set the dates for Jan. 20 — the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day — through Jan. 30 after hearing attorneys for the defense and prosecution speak about their expectations for the trial.

Authorities accuse Miller of killing a 20-month-old child identified in court documents as the son of Jeremy Alexander Vermillion, whom she identified at the time as her fiancée. Vermillion was at work at the time of the incident.

Defense attorney John C. Holloran of Harrisonburg said he was unsure how long it would take to put on Miller’s side of the case. Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley predicted it would take several days to hear testimony from six or seven medical experts she planned to call.

“I would say probably four days at least,” Wiseley told Hupp.

Wiseley said she also planned to hear from witnesses who would testify that Miller’s actions were pre-meditated.

“I’m thinking it’s a 11/2- to two-week case,” Holloran said, adding he wanted the case scheduled far enough ahead of time to ensure his experts will not get entangled in scheduling conflicts.

“I was looking to try this case, maybe this year,” Hupp said, adding that would agree to a date next year as long as both sides felt it necessary.

Hupp said he worried about snowstorms delaying the January trial.

“We can deal with that if we have to,” he said.

Miller appeared in court in a red and white striped jail uniform. She sat next to Holloran and her other attorney, William Eldridge, also of Harrisonburg.

Wiseley has taken the rare step of seeking the death penalty for a female defendant. If Miller is convicted and sentenced to death, she could become the 41st woman in the United States to be executed in the last 100 years.

Woodstock police answering a call to Miller’s apartment at 135 Valley Vista Drive on the evening of June 3 reported finding a 20-month-old boy not breathing and bruising on his face and body.

The child’s breathing revived as he was taken to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, but he died two days later at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.

A doctor at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital told police the victim’s injuries appeared to be the result of physical abuse, according to court documents.

A police report said Miller told a Woodstock investigator that she believed the boy’s injuries came from falling off a bed or from being pushed by her son, who was in the same age range as the victim.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com