A woman only tried to withdraw her plea after the state seized some of the $3,000 in her prison account to pay for court fees and restitution, prosecutors say.
In May, Hannah McMillin, who entered an Alford plea to a class AA felony count of murder in January, asked to change her plea back to not guilty. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt, but does acknowledge they would likely be convicted at trial.
McMillin was arrested and charged with child abuse in April 2019 after the death of her 1-month old son. She was charged with murder several months later.
After entering the Alford plea, McMillin received $3,000 in her prison commissary account and used it to buy mp3s and other items.
“While the means by which this was acquired are not yet known, given the restrictions on internet activity at the Williams County Correctional Center, the State notes that the Defendant was somehow able to convince one or more persons to send roughly $3,000.00 to her in the form of money orders,” Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, wrote in a 54-page response to McMillin’s motion.
The prosecution found out about the money and filed a civil suit to use some of the money to pay for costs McMillin will be required to pay.
“The State’s civil proceedings made it clear that, upon conviction, the money was not going to be available to satisfy her whims, but instead was going to reimburse taxpayers for a portion of the costs of the proceeding and to reimburse other family members who paid for Doe’s cremation,” Madden wrote.
That, rather than anything else, was what drove her motion, Madden argued.
“The motion to withdraw the guilty plea only came after the Defendant knew she was losing the remaining commissary money effectively at sentencing and that she was very likely going to prison for a very, very long time without that money and the fun things she thought she could buy with it,” he wrote. “It came only after her gilded image of what she thought life in prison was going to be like came crashing down around her; prison would suddenly seem much less exciting.”
Hannah McMillin’s request to change her plea back to not guilty centered on a claim that her husband, Tank McMillin, admitted his part in the death. In his response, Madden outlined the evidence against Hannah McMillin, including her statements to police and others after the infant’s death.
McMillin told investigators she’d held a pillow over the baby’s face, killing the child.
“A pillow with what appeared to be the imprint of a small human face was also located, and the impression area was found to contain (the infant’s) DNA,” Madden wrote. “(The state medical examiner’s) autopsy report indicated that (the child) died by smothering/suffocation. This corroborates the Defendant’s incriminating statements about the acts of violence committed against (the baby) which ultimately culminated in his death; something which she ‘now’ knew occurred before she left for the pool/spa. All of the acts of violence that the Defendant stated she perpetrated against (the child) are fully supported by the evidence gathered in this matter.”
Madden also questioned how the claims about what Tank McMillin had been saying came to light. Defense filings say only a reliable anonymous source.
“While this ‘anonymous’ source is likely known to the defense, it is interesting that the defense has chosen to not identify whether this ‘reliable anonymous source’ is a ‘citizen informant’ or a member of the criminal milieu,” Madden wrote, “and it is also interesting that the defense has chosen to not indicate the presence or absence of any link to the Defendant that this ‘reliable anonymous source’ may have.”
A hearing on McMillin’s request is scheduled for July 23.