Fort Wainwright soldier pleads guilty in death of stepson

Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A soldier from Fort Wainwright has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after assaulting his 9-month-old stepson and then making a false statement about it.

That came after the boy's death on the Army post on May 27.

As part of Tuesday's plea agreement, the accusation that Pfc. Charles Miller assaulted his wife was dropped, and he will serve no more than 10 years in prison for the crimes.

By admitting his guilt, the 20-year-old Miller avoided a military court-martial proceeding.

Miller admitted injuring his stepson, James Cody Michael Gray, when the two bumped heads on May 24. He also was accused of failing to seek treatment for the injuries, for some respiratory illnesses and for malnutrition.

All were discovered after the boy's death three days later.

Miller said at his plea agreement Tuesday that he hadn't been around children before, so he didn't know what to look for.

Miller also admitted to squeezing the boy's neck to ''cut off the flow of blood to the brain'' in order to put the boy to sleep on three separate occasions between April 16 and May 27.

When asked about the child's death by the Army Criminal Investigation Division on May 30, Miller told the agent he was not aware of any head injuries.

Miller also didn't want anyone to know the family was living in a tent in Glass Park, a recreational area on the Fairbanks area post. The family, including two girls, ages 4 and 3, slept on the ground in sleeping bags for about two weeks before the boy's death.

According to the charges, James also was suffering from pneumonia, the flu, a respiratory virus and was malnourished.

Tashawnda and her three children from a previous marriage moved to Alaska from Miller's hometown of Huntington, W. Va., on April 2. Miller was in the process of applying for a housing allowance after the couple married May 20. James died a week after they were married.

Miller will face a military panel for his sentencing.

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