A Hamilton Circuit Court jury found Elijah Mills, 35, of Indianapolis, guilty of neglect of a dependent resulting in catastrophic injury or death, battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a person less than 14 years old, and battery resulting in death to a person less than 14 years old April 22 following a five-day trial.
According to a press release from Hamilton County, the neglect charge is a Level 1 felony, which carries a sentencing range of 20 to 40 years in prison. The battery charge involving serious bodily injury is a Level 3 felony, which carries a sentencing range of three to 16 years in prison. The battery charge involving the death of a child is a Level 2 felony, which carries a sentencing range of 10 to 30 years.
Mills’ sentencing hearing is set for May 19. He is being held at Hamilton County Jail without bail.
The Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed the first two charges against Mills in November 2019 after first responders were called to his Noblesville apartment and found his son, 4, unresponsive on the living room floor.
During the trial, the jury heard from 27 witnesses. First responders described finding the victim with bruises in various stages of healing over his body. The victim also appeared very small for his age. He was rushed to Riverview Hospital and transferred to Riley Hospital for Children, where emergency neurosurgery was performed. During the trial, the injury to the child’s brain was described as neurologically devastating. Although he survived his initial admission to Riley, he was not able to regain neuro-typical abilities to walk, talk or eat. Medical personnel classified the injuries as “consistent with nonaccidental, inflicted trauma,” which is the strongest language used in a medical diagnosis of child physical abuse.
The third charge, battery resulting in death to a person less than 14 years old, was added by the prosecution in August 2021, after a forensic pathologist reviewed the child’s medical records, including those from a second admission to Riley in November 2020 after developing aspiration pneumonia, a known complication of the type of traumatic brain injury the child sustained. Because of damage to his brain, the child didn’t recover and died Dec. 13, 2020. The cause of death was acute respiratory failure caused by traumatic brain injury, and the manner of death was homicide.
Besides the testimony of first responders and medical personnel, the jury heard from a former neighbor and former friends of Mills. The neighbor described sounds he heard from the apartment above him, such as Mills yelling at the child and the child crying out. When the neighbor saw police in the apartment building in August 2019, he asked to speak with them and expressed his concerns for the child’s safety.
A former friend described Mills bringing the child to her apartment, approximately three weeks prior to the November 2019 incident, and being so shocked and concerned by the child’s appearance and Mills’ behavior toward him that she contacted the Dept. of Child Services the following day.
“This tragic case demonstrates the importance of all members of our community doing their part to protect children,” Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney D. Lee Buckingham II stated. “Without these fellow citizens raising their concerns, sharing their observations, and following through with law enforcement and trial testimony, holding Mr. Mills accountable through prosecution would have been even more difficult. My staff’s efforts might not have been successful without fellow members of the community saying something when they saw something or without the dedication of so many fine first responders and medical professionals.”