Winston Earl Corbett, 25, was sentenced to 115 years in Indiana state prison on Monday
An Indiana man has been sentenced to 115 years in prison for fatally stabbing a college professor and leaving the man’s wife with nearly two dozen stab wounds during a home invasion in 2011.
Winston Earl Corbett, 25, was sentenced on Monday by an Elkhart Circuit Court judge to 65 years for murder and 50 years for attempted murder, with the terms to run consecutively.
Corbett was 16 in October 2011 when he fatally stabbed Goshen College biology professor James Miller, 58, and badly wounded Miller’s wife Linda, who was stabbed 23 times but survived.
At sentencing, Judge Michael Christofeno blasted the crime, apparently a random home invasion, as ‘sadistic’ and handed down the maximum possible sentence.
‘Doors once left unlocked were no longer left unlocked,’ said Judge Christofeno, noting the gruesome crime’s impact on the quiet community, according to WNDU-TV.
Corbett was 16 in October 2011 when he fatally stabbed Goshen College biology professor James Miller, 58, (left) and badly wounded Miller’s wife Linda (righ)
The vicious murder rocked the quiet community of Goshen, a city of 33,000 about 150 miles north of Indianapolis. Above, police work the scene after the 2011 murder
There were no credible suspects for years after the attack, but Corbett was formally charged in November 2018 based on DNA found at the crime scene (above)
According to prosecutors, the attack unfolded after the killer slit a windowscreen and entered the home, first attacking Linda and then turning the knife on James as he rushed to help his wife.
James chased the killer out of the home, and was found dead in the driveway.
A jury convicted Corbett last month, following a trial in which he took the stand in his own defense, testifying that he had never been inside the Millers’ home and denying he committed the murder.
There were no credible suspects for years after the attack, but Corbett was formally charged in November 2018 based on DNA found at the scene.
Two samples were recovered containing a mixture of Corbett’s and James Miller’s DNA, along with evidence containing only Corbett’s DNA.
Corbett, who served in the Navy after high school, only came to investigators’ attention after a familial DNA search pointed police in his direction.
DNA from his trash, and later a sample provided by Corbett to investigators, matched samples taken from the scene.
Investigators work the scene in 2011. The DNA evidence that tied Corbett to the scene was found on James’ shirt, the wall of the foyer baseboard, the door handle and the roadway
Corbett’s attorneys argued that at age 16 he did not resemble the description of the killer. The police sketch above was produced from Linda’s description two days after the attack
At trial, Corbett testified that as a teen, he had ridden his bike on a path near the Miller home and knew the couple’s daughter, but denied ever entering their home.
Grilled by the state one by one on the elements of the grisly crime, he denied each allegation.
Corbett’s attorneys argued that he did not match the description of the killer, whom Linda described at the time as in his mid to late 20s and possibly on meth.
Corbett testified that in 2011 he wore glasses and had braces. Linda testified that the killer did not have glasses on, but said she didn’t believe he opened his mouth, and so wasn’t sure if he had braces.
The DNA evidence that tied Corbett to the scene was found on James’ shirt, the wall of the foyer baseboard, the door handle and the roadway.
The DNA evidence on the shirt, handle and roadway was mixed with James’ DNA. However, the blood drop on the baseboard of the foyer was only Corbett’s, according to evidence presented at trial.
The jury deliberated for roughly two-and-a-half hours before voting to convict Corbett.
Professor Jim Miller’s family prays during the college’s remembrance service on Oct. 9, 2012: (left to right) his sister Kathy Fenton-Miller, his mother Elizabeth Jeschke, his wife Linda, his son Robert, his daughter Leanne, his daughter Lisa Rose Martin and his grandson Jared Martin
Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Elaine Becker said Monday that ‘this crime would not likely have been solved’ without police investigators, who worked with Parabon NanoLabs, Inc to use genetic genealogy to tie the crime to Corbett.
Miller’s widow, sister and two daughters testified via video during Monday’s virtual hearing. Linda Miller said her husband’s slaying has left her with ‘a deep and enduring pain.’
‘There are many days that I want to die because I couldn’t stand the pain. There are also many days that I made plans to die because the pain was unbearable. The night we lost Jim, we lost a lot,’ she said.
Corbett, who did not address the court under the advice of his attorney, indicated that he intends to appeal his conviction and sentence.
With credit for good behavior, Corbett could be eligible for release in 2078, when he would be 83 years old.