A 29-year-old man agreed to testify about the mysterious final days of 8-year-old Meela Miller’s life when he pleaded guilty to his involvement in her death Friday.
Aleksandr Kurmoyarov pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree assault and three counts of unlawful imprisonment.
Mandie Miller, Meela’s mother, and Kurmoyarov were arrested late last year in South Dakota after they transported the little girl’s body from Airway Heights to the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation where, according to court documents, they intended to bury her.
Biologically, Meela is Miller’s niece, but the 33-year-old adopted her and raised her as her own.
A funeral home on the reservation contacted the coroner, who then notified police when employees noticed suspicious behavior from Miller and Kurmoyarov.
Officers contacted the pair at Miller’s mother’s home, where they found the girl’s body in the back of a U-Haul trailer.
Miller and Kurmoyarov were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, criminal mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment.
Further investigation revealed more than a dozen occasions when police responded to calls at apartments where the couple lived with the girl.
Neighbors reported yelling, crying, arguments, banging and other sounds indicative of domestic violence. School counselors reported Meela abruptly stopped coming to school in January 2022.
It wasn’t until December 2022 when the couple showed up in South Dakota with her body. Little is know about what happened to the girl during that time.
The girl was malnourished, weighing only 26 pounds, and there was evidence of lesions from restraints on one of her wrists and both ankles, according to court documents.
The couple’s story of how Meela died and what happened to her has changed multiple times since their arrest.
One police report said Miller’s explanations for the girl’s death “did not make sense,” and another said Kurmoyarov “kept changing his story.”
That story may become more clear when Miller goes to trial. Kurmoyarov will cooperate with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement, Deputy Prosecutor Emily Sullivan confirmed Friday.
Prosecutors plan to recommend a sentence of nearly 23 years for Kurmoyarov, they said Friday. His sentencing is set for April, but that date could be moved if Miller’s trial has yet to conclude.
Miller’s trial is scheduled for early March.