The attorney for one of five convicted in connection to the Polderman murder case in Kalamazoo County 17 years ago will have the opportunity to ask for a new trial during an appeal to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Anastase Markou of Levine & Levine in Kalamazoo argues his client’s, Andrew Miller, constitutional rights were violated during the original trial.
Miller, of Galesburg, was convicted of three counts of murder, perjury and home invasion in connection to the murders of an elderly couple and their daughter in Pavilion Township in 2000. The case went unsolved until 2007 when police charged Miller and four others in the case. All were convicted, four during their individual trials in 2008 and one who reached a cooperation agreement.
Markou argues that during the trial he was unable to cross-examine another co-defendant who had accepted a plea agreement with the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor. That same co-defendant later rescinded the agreement and changed her testimony. During Miller’s trial, the co-defendant pleaded her Fifth Amendment right. However, the prosecutor was permitted to continue placing information from the original plea deal into evidence during Miller’s trial.
Markou believes Miller’s Sixth Amendment Right of Confrontation had been violated and has taken the argument to the Michigan Circuit Court and Michigan Supreme Court. While he did not receive the outcome he had hoped for in either court, Markou proceeded to the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan on his firm belief his client’s constitutional rights were violated.
“When I first began trying this case, I knew this was a legitimately significant issue,” Markou said.
Although U.S. Sixth District Judge Robert Holmes Bell denied Markou’s claim and failed to issue a certificate of appealability on the case, Markou pressed on to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. In early September 2017, the federal appeals court granted Markou’s appeal to hear the case solely on the possible violation of Miller’s confrontation right.
“The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals could have denied it. It’s not often they grant these types of appeal cases. So, this is a major victory for us,” Markou explained. “I fundamentally believe Andrew’s confrontational rights were violated from the beginning of his trial – and that was a critical factor in the jury’s decision. I felt like I needed to follow through with that until the end. A person’s constitutional rights mean a lot to me and to all of us. If those in the judicial system are not going to follow the law in regard to constitutional rights, then why should anyone else follow them?”
Markou expects to be heard in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in about six months.