The Decatur Daily Democrat
Local man faces serious battery charges on child
A Decatur man is facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted on charges he faces in Adams Circuit Court.
Joseph A. Mills, Jr., 27, was charged by Adams County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy W. Brown with two counts of domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 14. Each charge carries a maximum prison term of 16 years and given Mills’ past criminal record, Brown is also seeking to have the court declare Mills a habitual criminal offender which could add an additional 20 years of time to his sentence.
In a release to the media, Brown emphasized Mills “is merely charged at this point and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.” in court. Mills has been scheduled to appear in court on the habitual criminal offender request for a pre-trial conference at 9:30 a.m. on March 16.
The first domestic battery charge accuses Mills of “touching the child victim, a person under the age of 14 and a person who was a family or household member in a rude insolent or angry manner by beating the child with his hand a belt that resulted in serious bodily injury.”
Those injuries included 14 compression fractures in the child’s spine and a subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain).
The second count alleges Mills did knowingly or intentionally touch the child victim in a rude or insolent or angry manner by burning the child’s ear with a lit cigarette that resulted in serious bodily injuries in the form of abrasions to the child’s ear.
The probable cause affidavit against Mills was written by Decatur Police Department Lieutenant/Detective Kevin Gerber and he noted officials at the Adams Memorial Hospital notified the Department of Child Services on January 17 about two children they were treating with suspicious injuries.
The first child, age five, was taken to the hospital by his mother for a reported seizure. Medical officials discovered a large number of bruises all over his body along with an obvious head injury and the
child was described as being lethargic and vomiting.
Gerber soon arrived at the hospital after DCS officials and estimated at least 20 bruises were found with over 50 percent of the child’s buttocks bruised. Also discovered was a circular abrasion to the left ear that appeared to be a cigarette burn.
The mother told officials she was at work and and her boyfriend (Mills) told her he gave the child a shower but that the water was too hot. As the child got out of the shower, he allegedly fell and had a seizure according to what the mother said Mills told her. She also added that several nights before the child and child number two, a two-year, were jumping on a bed when the five year-old fell off and hit a nightstand. The mother said that now seeing all the injuries she didn’t believe the story she was told. \
She added that Mills wasn’t allowing her to see much of her child and that he was also doing the changing of diapers and other personal care for the twoyear old.
With the injuries suffered by the five yearold, AMH officials transferred care of the child to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. It was also noted in the affidavit
that the biological father of the five-year old child had had custody of him the previous week and no signs of the current injuries were present then, a fact the mother agreed with.
The child told police that “Joey” had hurt him and the two-year old by using his hands and a belt..
The mother told police that Mills was waiting outside the hospital in a car. Police soon located him and took him into custody after being read his rights and he was then questioned.
Mills could not offer an explanation for how the injuries occurred but denied being ever having physically abusing or discipling them. He did admit the bruises had occurred within the past several days and that he spanked the five year-old once with an open hand but never used a belt.
The five-year old woke up on January 17 not feeling well and vomited after breakfast. Mills said he simply thought it was a 24-hour illness. He said the child fell getting out of the shower and started having a seizure. He also admitted the abrasion to the ear was a cigarette burn but that the child had gotten too close to him and bumped into the lit item. The abrasion to the ear “looks bad because the child picks his scabs,” Mills said in the affidavit.
Mills said he had engaged in some “horse
playing” with both children with some slap boxing, light boxing, and wrestling with the five-year old. While he said he may have gotten a little rough at times, he had never intentionally hurt them. Police showed Mills photos taken of the child at the hospital and he broke down crying while apologizing to the five-year old and using the child’s name.
The two-year old child was discovered to have a large bruise on the left side of the face and a similar red abrasion behind the right ear along with marks/bruises along the back and hip. Mills said those injuries were caused when the child fell on a large robot toy about a week earlier and the ear injury was actually a bite mark from an unidentified family member.
The second child was examined and released from Riley’s Children Hospital. Their report documented the bruising as well but no injuries were found to the extent the five-year old had.
Brown said the habitual offender status charge comes since Mills had accumulated two prior unrelated felony convictions. Those convictions were for receiving stolen property, a class D felony in Fort Wayne, and for carrying a handgun without a license, a level five felony in Huntington. Both charges occurred in 2019.