Custer County District Judge Rejects Plea Agreement For Sentencing; Miller Sentenced To Prison

CUSTER COUNTY— The case against Branden Miller reached a conclusion in Custer County District Court on Thursday, December 17.

Miller, 27 of Broken Bow, was sentenced after pleading no contest to charges of 3rd-degree sexual assault of a child and intentional cruelty to an animal (both class IIIA felonies) back in September.

According to court documents, Miller had been arrested by the Custer County Sheriff’s Office in May of 2019 after an investigation revealed he had assaulted a child in 2017 near the Custer County Fairgrounds.

Miller was also charged with additional crimes in January 2020 after it was reported that Miller had been mistreating two kittens. According to the court documents, Miller had caused injuries to the two kittens that resulted in one of the kittens being euthanized.

During arguments, Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers stated that both parties had tried to find reasonable options for probation at the request of the court, which included finding a permanent structured living facility with intensive programs for sex offenders, but one does not currently exist in Nebraska. Bowers also asked the court to impose 90 days of an ankle monitor if a permanent placement could not be found right away along with other probationary terms.

Miller’s attorney, Gary Peterson, also asked that the court go along with the plea deal as his client had been cooperative since being incarcerated at the Custer County Jail. He also stated that the plan was to get Miller into a structured setting as soon as possible, once one could be located.

Judge Karin Noakes stated during sentencing that there was a lot of violence in the crimes committed and the lack of honesty as well as not taking full responsibility for the acts was concerning. Judge Noakes also said that the court was concerned with the compulsive behavior of Miller and that his behavior is alarming and disturbing to the court.

As she continued with the sentencing, Judge Noakes said that it is rare for her not to follow the plea agreement in a case, but due to the inability to find a permanent placement and intensive care in Nebraska, she would not follow the agreement.

Judge Noakes sentenced Miller to two years in prison along with eighteen months of post-release supervision for the sexual assault charge and one year in prison with eighteen months of post-release supervision for cruelty to an animal. Both sentences were ordered to be served consecutively and Miller was also given credit for 346 days already served. Miller must also register as a sex offender.