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Miller sentenced a second time in Gropp murder case


HUDSON—Columbia County Judge Paul Czajka sentenced Mickey Miller to seven years in prison and five years of post release supervision in county court the morning of August 26.
It was the second time Mr. Miller was sentenced after pleading guilty to second degree attempted robbery in connection with the 2004 home invasion that led to the slaying of fruit farmer Henry Gropp.
His first conviction was overturned by the state Appellate Division Court May 7.
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney David Costanzo asked the judge to set the above-mentioned sentence, defense attorney Veronica M. Kosich agreed and Mr. Miller had nothing to say in his own behalf.
Mr. Miller will get credit for the prison time he has already served–about four years.
Mr. Miller, now 40, of Hudson was one of five people originally charged with second degree murder and second degree burglary for breaking into the Gropp home on Mill Road in Livingston, November 1, 2004 at about 4 a.m.
Testimony at the trials of three of the defendants established that a plan was hatched to break into the farmer’s home and steal payroll money they thought was kept there. But during their quest for cash, Mr. Gropp, 69, was stabbed to death.
In June 2005, Mr. Miller and his defense attorney at the time cut a plea deal with District Attorney Beth Cozzolino in which she withdrew the original indictment in exchange for Mr. Miller’s plea of guilty to second degree attempted robbery, a class D violent felony.
Judge Czajka sentenced Mr. Miller as a “second felony offender” to seven years in prison, the maximum allowable, and three-years of post-prison supervision.
But according to the May State Supreme Court, Appellate Division ruling, penal law requires that the period of post-release supervision for such a conviction “shall be five years.”
Mr. Miller pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery charge and the determinate sentence that went along with it, including the post-release supervision component of the sentence.
The appellate court held that Mr. Miller should have been made aware of the correct mandated post-release supervision requirement of five years so he could “knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently choose among alternative courses of action, the failure of a court to advise of post-release supervision requires reversal of the conviction.”   
Hillsdale Attorney Alexander Bloomstein filed the appeal for the defendant.
Mr. Miller was slated to appear for a new trial on the second degree attempted robbery charge this month.
The DA had the option to re-indict Mr. Miller on the original charges or resubmit the case to a Grand Jury, but neither of those things happened and Mr. Miller again pleaded guilty to second degree attempted robbery in July.
Many facets of the multi-defendant case were the subject of controversy, including a delay in the turning over of evidence to the defense by the DA’s Office, court-imposed sanctions and criticism by some defense attorneys of the plea deals struck by the DA with two of the defendants.
Other defendants in the case were:
*Hector DeJesus, then 24, who was convicted during trial of both the murder and burglary charges June 21, 2005 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal November 8, 2007.
*Christopher Anderson, then 17, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of second degree burglary July 11, 2005 at trail and was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison and 5 years of post-release supervision. His conviction was upheld February 21, 2008.
*Tina Brandt, then 21, was found not guilty of both murder and burglary during a joint trial with her brother Mr. Anderson, July 11, 2005.
*Marquice Lee, then 16, pleaded guilty to third degree burglary November 30, 2005 as part of plea deal with the DA. He was sentenced January 18, 2006 to an indeterminate term of incarceration in state prison, having a maximum of 7 years and a minimum of 2 1/3 years.
To contact Diane Valden email  

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