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Homicide trial moved to Rock County

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GINA R. HEINE
June 15, 2011
— A Sturtevant man will face trial in Rock County Court on charges that he killed a woman and dumped her body in rural western Rock County.

Prosecutors on Tuesday dismissed similar charges in Racine County Court.


Rock County prosecutors charged Keith M. Abbott, 47, with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse. He is accused of killing Kristin S. Miller, 33, Racine, who was found dead Jan. 31 in Avon Township in a ravine near Nelson and North Avon Townline roads, a few miles south of Highway 11, according to the criminal complaint.


New DNA evidence could not establish that Miller was killed in Racine County, so the case has been moved to Rock County where the body was discovered, according to the Racine Journal Times.


Racine County Assistant District Attorney Randy Schneider told the court Tuesday that during the initial investigation, authorities believed they could establish the homicide happened in Racine County, the Journal Times reported.


Racine County Sheriff's Department investigators seized many items from Abbott's shop, Creative Woodworking, and sent them to the State Crime Lab for testing, Schneider said. But test results did not show Miller's DNA on any of the items taken from the shop.


Schneider said state statute says a homicide can be prosecuted in the place it happened or where the body was discovered.


Racine County District Attorney Mike Nieskes told the Journal Times that Schneider and Assistant District Attorney Patricia Hansen would continue prosecuting the case in Rock County as special prosecutors.


Nieskes said they believe they can prove Abbott killed Miller, but they don't know where the homicide was committed, which is the reason for the transfer.


Abbott is scheduled for an initial appearance Thursday in Rock County Court.


Tuesday's court hearing had been scheduled to discuss whether Abbott is competent to stand trial, an issue that likely will continue in Rock County, Nieskes said.


According to the criminal complaint:


Abbott was paying Miller large sums of money to hide their affair from Abbott's wife. Abbott is the grandfather of Miller's daughter. On the day of his arrest, Abbott admitted the affair and blackmailing to investigators and said Miller told him she was pregnant with his child.


Abbott and Miller disappeared Jan. 1, and evidence suggested Abbott had been in Iowa on Jan. 2. Abbott returned home Jan. 3.


Nearly a month later, Miller's body was found naked and wrapped in two types of plastic.


Abbott was arrested the following day at his Mount Pleasant business, where investigators reported finding two types of plastic wrap consistent with the plastic found around Miller's body.



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