BOWLING GREEN - If Mark Miller's account is to be believed, Ralph Doren confided to him in great detail about how and why he fatally stabbed 19-year-old Deana Meeks.
Miller, who was in prison with Doren in Michigan, said Doren told him he went to a friend's house to steal money but instead was surprised by his friend's "daughter."
"He said that when he turned around, the guy's daughter was standing there and she asked him what he was doing," Miller told jurors in Wood County Common Pleas Court yesterday. "He said she yelled, 'Get out of the house or I'm going to call the police.' She turned to run, and he caught her and grabbed her by the hair."
Miller, who claimed to know nothing about the June 7, 1991, Northwood murder except for what Doren told him in prison, said Doren tried to quiet Ms. Meeks but she kept crying and screaming, so he struck her in the face. Doren told him blood began to flow from her mouth or nose, and he panicked.
When Doren told Miller he stabbed the girl, Miller said he asked him how he could do such a thing. "He said he was [messed] up. He said, 'You wouldn't believe the amount of dope I was doing. I did it all day long,' " Miller testified.
Jurors hearing the aggravated murder case against Doren, 56, will have to weigh the credibility of Miller and two other convicts who testified that Doren told them in prison he had killed Ms. Meeks.
Defense attorneys zeroed in on the benefits Miller was seeking in exchange for his testimony, including recommendations for reward money and the promise that a Wood County representative would speak on his behalf if he gains a resentencing hearing in Michigan. Miller is serving 25 to 75 years in prison for a criminal sexual conduct conviction.
Miller said he has spent 12 1/2 years in prison studying the law and acting as quasi-legal counsel for a number of inmates, including Doren. Miller testified that Doren told him he had gotten rid of the hunting knife he used to kill Ms. Meeks and burned the leather gloves and shirt he was wearing when he committed the crime.
He said Doren told him he wouldn't have killed the girl if she hadn't gotten so upset when she saw him in the house.
"He said he would've just said he was looking for her dad," Miller testified. "He said he felt bad about it, but there was nothing he could do to change it."
Among the other witnesses yesterday, Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, testified that Ms. Meeks died from a single six-inch, cutting-type wound to her neck. The wound, which appeared to go from left to right, cut her jugular vein and windpipe, Dr. Patrick said.
The only other significant injury he said, was bruising on the surface of her scalp, "which suggested a recent bump on the back of the head."
He said he found no evidence she had been struck in the face and told Assistant Prosecutor Bill Connelly she could have been hit in the face hard enough to make her nose bleed without leaving bruises.
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