Teen working on GED while awaiting trial for mother's murder

Becky Campbell • Jan 13, 2012 at 4:47 PM

For the first time since his arrest in May 2009, Codey Miller walked into a Washington County courtroom without handcuffs or wearing a jail uniform.

Miller, 19, made his first court appearance Friday after his family posted a $100,000 bond for him in December.

Judge Robert Cupp learned Miller is getting his GED and complying with all terms of his bond.

The teen is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the May 2009 strangulation death of his mother, 36-year-old Sherry Cooper. He’s also accused of having sex with his mother’s corpse.

Miller’s release on bond came in December after Cupp ruled the teen’s statement to Johnson City Police Investigator Joe Harrah is inadmissible.

Throwing out the statement could unravel the state’s case against Miller, but prosecutors have declined to say how detrimental the ruling could be.

During the brief appearance Friday, Miller reported that he is working toward his GED, attending required mental health treatment and weekly probation meetings. He is also drug tested each week.

Cupp commended Miller for his progress.

Miller’s case is set for another status update on March 5. His co-defendant, Christopher Johnson, will also appear that day and Cupp is expected to rule on the videotaped interview he gave police.

Johnson denied any involvement in killing Cooper, but told police he helped Miller dump the body.

Cupp threw out Miller’s statement — in which he initially and consistently denied killing his mother before confessing when Harrah started talking about the death penalty — and essentially said it was coerced.

Cooper was found dead and stuffed into a large red trash can outside her Mint Hill Road apartment building around 2 a.m. May 9, 2009 after her former boyfriend, Tony Hyder, and brother, Billy Miller, started looking for her. They had not heard from Cooper in several days.

Investigators believe Cooper was killed two days before the men found her body.

At the time, Miller was 17 years old and charged as a juvenile. The case was sent to Criminal Court after several lengthy hearings and Miller now faces the charges as an adult.

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