7th Circuit denies new trial for convicted bank robber

July 23, 2015

A man convicted of robbing the Hammond Standard Bank & Trust in December 2011 failed to convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that he was entitled to a new trial.

Joseph B. Miller was convicted by a federal jury that heard testimony indicating he presented a note demanding money to a bank teller who gave him $5,000 in cash. Key evidence included surveillance video from a nearby business showing a man who appeared to be Miller climbing into a van after the heist.

FBI agents with assistance from local authorities were able to enhance the video to show a license plate on the van in which all but one character was discernable. A database search narrowing the possible plate numbers led to a van owned by Miller with distinctive features matching the van in the video.

Miller later admitted his van was at the scene of the robbery, but he denied involvement. A search of his residence, though, found articles of clothing that also matched those worn by the robber in the video.

In his appeal, Miller claimed FBI agents misstated the amount his bank account was overdrawn and failed to disclose another agency’s involvement in the investigation that led to discovery of his van. Miller also claimed ineffective assistance of defense counsel on the basis his attorney failed to seek suppression of certain evidence.

“Because we conclude that neither the agent’s alleged misstatements nor counsel’s purported errors affected the outcome of Miller’s trial, we affirm the district court’s denial of his new trial motion,” Circuit Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the panel in United States of America v. Joseph B. Miller, 14-2779.




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