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Interview reveals information surrounding Miller case

New details surrounding the criminal case against former Hastings Police Officer Anthony Miller surfaced Tuesday, as a transcript of the interview Wisconsin Department of Justice agents conducted with Miller the day he was arrested was entered into the case file.

Miller is facing charges in St. Croix County court of possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.

A motion filed by Miller's lawyer seeking to have Miller's alleged admissions suppressed from evidence prompted a hearing Tuesday, in which the agent who conducted the interview was called to testify about how the admissions were obtained.

Special Agent Jon Spallees with the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation said he was officially assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in March 2008.

Around 4 p.m., Dec. 16, 2008, Spallees said he and approximately 11 other law enforcement officials went to Miller's New Richmond home to execute a search warrant. No one was home when they first showed up, so they took up a position at the end of the block to wait for someone to return to the house.

Around 4:15 p.m., a car pulled into the garage and Spallees, along with one or two other agents, went into the garage and told Miller they were there to execute a search warrant on his house. Miller's three children were in the car with him at the time, and Special Agent Tami Sleeman took the kids to a basement family room, under Miller's direction.

Spallees, Miller and another agent proceeded to Miller's kitchen and sat down at the table. Before Spallees asked Miller any questions, he told Miller that he was not under arrest and that he was free to get up and leave at any time. He told Miller he was under no obligation to talk to them, and then asked if it would be OK if he asked Miller a couple of questions. Miller said he'd cooperate.

Spallees asked Miller if he'd ever used an online file-sharing program called Google Hello to send and receive images. Miller admitted that he had.

Going into the search of the house, Spallees said he did not know that Miller was a police officer. From the information the Wisconsin DOJ had, he knew there was a computer in the house that had downloaded and traded child pornography, but did not know who the computer belonged to or who had access to it. An agent conducting the search found Miller's Hastings Police Department I.D. badge and informed Spallees that Miller was a police officer.

Spallees' demeanor changed once he found out that Miller was a police officer. He said he was "not going to beat around the bush" because he knew that Miller "knows the drill."

"Do you know why we're here?" Spallees asked.

"Yeah," Miller allegedly responded.

Spallees asked Miller when he first began viewing child pornography, and Miller responded that it'd been one or two years. He said at first it was curiosity that drove him to view child pornography, but that after he did it, he knew it was wrong.

When asked if he viewed illegal images with anyone else in the house, such as his wife, Miller said no, that as far as he knew, his wife didn't know he looked at pornography at all.

Later in the interview, Spallees asked Miller, "Were you doing it (viewing child pornography) while you were on duty? With your own laptop?"

"Yeah," Miller responded.

"I thought so, all right," Spallees said.

"Just on the really dead nights as a (way to) pass time," Miller said.

Spallees asked Miller how long he'd been viewing child pornography while on duty.

"On duty, I'd say probably intermittently over the last couple of years," Miller said.

He then explained he'd only do it in his squad car and that he drove around Hastings to obtain wireless Internet access from random locations.

Spallees asked Miller if there were other officers at the Hastings Police Department who knew about what he was doing or engaged in it with him. Miller said no, that he was the only one who knew about it, and that he'd never used a police department computer to access child pornography, only his own.

Shortly after that exchange, around 5:20 p.m., Spallees said he needed to take a break to use the restroom, talk to some people and make some phone calls. He reminded Miller again that he was under no obligation to be present at the house or talk to any law enforcement personnel there.

At 6:20 p.m., Spallees felt that he and his agents had enough probable cause to place Miller under arrest. Spallees resumed the interview with Miller by reading him his Miranda rights and asking Miller if he understood his rights. Miller responded that he understood and was willing to continue the interview.

Spallees and other agents then reviewed chat logs and images with Miller that were obtained before the search and asked Miller to identify his online username and asked if the chat logs looked familiar. Miller couldn't remember many specifics, but indicated that some of them looked familiar.

Spallees and other agents also questioned Miller about where the child pornography he downloaded was stored, such as specific computers or hard drives.

Around 7 p.m., Miller's wife showed up at the house and was questioned briefly. At about 7:20 p.m., the search was concluded and the agents brought Miller to the St. Croix County Jail.

Upon cross examination of Spallees, Miller's lawyer, Shirlene Perrin, questioned Spallees about whether Miller was given the chance to talk to his children while the search was going on, or if anyone offered to feed them dinner.

Spallees said the question of dinner didn't come up specifically, but reiterated that he told Miller on two occasions that he was free to get up at any time and walk away from the interview.

Perrin said she didn't receive a copy of the transcript of the interview until Tuesday, the day of the hearing, and requested more time to go over it in order to prepare a proper cross examination for Spallees.

Judge Edward Vlack granted Perrin the extra time, and a status hearing was scheduled for 11:45 a.m. April 21.