from the Superior Court in Pima County No. CR20130560001 The
Honorable Jane L. Eikleberry, Judge
Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief
Counsel, Phoenix By Kathryn A. Damstra, Assistant Attorney
General, Tucson Counsel for Appellee.
Brault, Pima County Legal Defender By Robb P. Holmes,
Assistant Legal Defender, Tucson Counsel for Appellant.
Miller authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding
Judge Staring and Judge Espinosa concurred.
A jury found Jeremy Millis guilty of one count of intentional
or knowing child abuse under circumstances likely to result
in death or serious physical injury and one count of
first-degree murder, both committed against a victim under
age fifteen. Millis was sentenced to life imprisonment
without the possibility of release for thirty-five years for
murder, to be followed by a consecutive ten-year prison term
for child abuse. On appeal, he contends the trial court
erroneously precluded expert testimony about his autism, he
was prejudiced by a duplicitous charge, and the court erred
by allowing the victim's mother to be accompanied at
trial by a facility dog. We affirm for the following reasons.
and Procedural Background
"We view the facts and all reasonable inferences
therefrom in the light most favorable to upholding the
jury's verdict[s]." State v. Causbie, 241
Ariz. 173, ¶ 2, 384 P.3d 1253, 1255 (App. 2016). Millis
and S.F. began dating in 2012 and after a few months they
began sharing an apartment. Not long after that, the
relationship ended and Millis moved out, but they remained on
good terms with one another. In order to help offset the cost
of the lease that S.F. now bore on her own, Millis agreed to
watch S.F.'s two young sons one day a week while she was
On the morning of January 24, 2013, S.F. changed the diaper
of her eight-month-old son, C.K. He had no bruises on him.
She later took some pictures of C.K. "having a lot of
fun . . . and being very smiley" in his bouncer. Millis
arrived to babysit the boys and she left for work at around
2:00 p.m. Millis was the only person watching the boys while
S.F. was at work.
S.F. arrived home around 11:00 p.m. She looked in on the boys
and they appeared to be asleep. Millis told S.F. that C.K.
had been coughing and choking earlier that night, but S.F.
was not worried because she knew C.K. had a condition called
tracheomalacia, a "floppiness" in the cartilage of
the trachea that sometimes caused him to make choking sounds,
cough, or wheeze. Millis left and S.F. went to bed.
C.K. woke up at about 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and S.F. tried to
feed him a bottle. He did not eat much, but seemed to go back
to sleep after about fifteen or twenty minutes. Then at about
5:30 a.m., C.K. started crying in a way that "didn't
sound right. It wasn't his normal cry." S.F. picked
him up but he would not open his eyes or respond to his name,
and she had to hold his head up.
S.F. rushed C.K. to the hospital, which was across the street
from her apartment. When they arrived at the emergency room,
the staff took him right away, but he began having seizures.
At 6:53 a.m., S.F. texted Millis and told him something was
wrong with C.K.-he was crying "weird" and was
nonresponsive. Millis replied that C.K. had been "a
little weird when he did that choking thing" the night
before. She asked if C.K. had hit his head on anything, and
Millis replied, "I don't think so. Just from him
sitting on the carpet and tip[p]ing over . . . [b]ut nothing
bad." She told Millis C.K. was "seizing" and
had a "head bleed, " to which Millis replied,
"Oh my god. Maybe that's what he was doing last
night. I didn't know what he was doing. I squeezed his
neck a little [because] he was having trouble breathing. He
cried a little then went back to sleep so I thought he was
fine." In a subsequent recorded confrontation call,
Millis told S.F. he had found C.K. "stiff and making
"gasping noises" at one point, and had responded by
"squeez[ing] his neck" "firm[ly]."
C.K. had bilateral subdural hematomas, which caused bleeding
on both sides of his brain, bruising, and swelling. Analysis
of a CT scan indicated the head trauma had occurred within
approximately the last twenty-four hours, and could not have
been the result of C.K. merely falling back onto carpet from
a seated position. His fontanel was also bulging, and in each
eye he had "too many [retinal hemorrhages] to
count" across all layers of the retina. C.K. also had
bruises on his head, ears, neck, chin, upper arms, shoulders,
and "wrap[ping] around" his chest and rib cage.
Numerous medical professionals testified that C.K.'s
injuries were not consistent with an accidental fall, but
were consistent with blunt force head trauma, intentional
choking, and violent shaking.
C.K. died on January 30, five days after he was admitted to
the hospital. A forensic pathologist opined that the date of
the injuries was five to six days prior to death. The
pathologist ruled C.K.'s death a homicide and determined
the co-equal and interrelated causes of death to be (1) blunt
force trauma to the head, and (2) hypoxic ischemic injury,
which is a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.
S.F. was interviewed by investigating detectives the day C.K.
was admitted to the hospital. She showed them her text
message exchange with Millis. They located Millis, advised
him of his Miranda rights, and he agreed to an
interview. When they confronted him with information about
C.K.'s head injuries, Millis told the detectives he had
accidentally hit C.K.'s head on the oven door while he
was taking food out of the oven, even though he had denied
any head injuries when he was texting with S.F. while she was
at the hospital. He also told the detectives that C.K. had
been "crying a lot" and that he had "choked
[C.K.]" with his hand. In a second Mirandized interview
after C.K. died, Millis again admitted he had been
"frustrated" with C.K., "just wanted him to
stop crying, " and "chok[ed]" him to get him
to quiet down, adding that he "just couldn't take it
anymore" and "I did what I did." Millis also told
his ex-wife in a recorded jail video call that "he [had]
choked [S.F.'s] baby."
At trial, Millis argued the blunt force trauma alone could
have caused the brain swelling, which in turn could have
choked off oxygenated blood to the brain, causing the hypoxic
ischemic injury notwithstanding any strangulation. However,
the forensic pathologist testified that the blunt force
trauma alone could not account for certain injuries noted on
an MRI. In closing, Millis argued that his choking the baby
was not what killed him, that S.F. had inflicted the injuries
that caused C.K.'s death after he had left that night,
and that "shaking plus impact explains the [whole]
universe of injuries that we have." In the alternative,
he argued he had choked C.K. recklessly or negligently, not
The jury convicted Millis of all charges and he was sentenced
as described above. We have jurisdiction pursuant to ...