Michael Jacob Altherr-Miller will spend more than 18 years behind bars after he received his sentence Tuesday from Union County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Powers.
On June 22, Altherr-Miller, 33, La Grande, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and three counts of third-degree sexual abuse. The victim was 11 years old at the start of the abuse and it lasted until she was 15 years old. Altherr-Miller was immediately taken into custody to await sentencing.
Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel and Altherr-Miller’s attorney, Wes Williams, focused their arguments on whether his sentence should run consecutively or concurrently.
McDaniel said Altherr-Miller needs to serve his sentence consecutively because the crimes were committed separately and the impact of these crimes will follow the victim and her family for the rest of their lives.
“There is a lack of remorse about what he’s done since day one,” McDaniel added.
There were 20 letters submitted in defense of Altherr-Miller by family and friends who spoke to his character.
McDaniel said none of those letters acknowledged he was found guilty of sexually abusing a child on multiple occasions.
“These acts he’s been convicted of aren’t concurrent,” she said. “He touched different parts of (the victim’s) body at different times.”
The victim read a letter addressed to Altherr-Miller in front of Powers on Tuesday. In the letter, she said the acts he committed made her “feel worthless.”
“You made me feel so scared I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I felt like I couldn’t be a kid anymore. You changed me forever.”
She said Altherr-Miller, who was dating her mother at the time and was acting as a father figure, made “suffering a lifestyle.”
Williams said while his heart goes out to the victim and her family, he argued the testimony given by the victim did not necessarily show the incidents of abuse were separate. In the context of the law, he said, the incidents were not distinct events.
He said serving six years in prison, or 75 months, which is the mandatory minimum of first-degree sexual abuse, is a long time.
Powers responded the testimony shared showed Altherr-Miller had opportunity to pause and reflect on what he was doing to the victim. The incidents were clearly separate. The evidence is all over the calendar, he said.
After a short recess while the judge made his decision, Powers said he wanted to make it clear that, as he saw it, the court does have the authority to impose the sentences consecutively.
“The question becomes, should the court impose the sentence consecutively,” he said to the prosecution and the defense. “I find it compelling that the incidents were so profoundly troubling that the victim said she felt trapped and scared.”
No child should have to come up with a strategy of how to avoid being molested, Powers said.
In her testimony, the victim said she would get up early in the morning and did not linger in her bed so he didn’t have the opportunity to come into her room. She would delay in coming home from school, she said, and she even wore onesie pajamas because it was more difficult for him to molest her that way.
“She was trapped in a way that no child should be,” Powers said, adding that this will have a big impact in her future.
“I have heard no remorse or regret (from Altherr-Miller),” Powers added. “There has not been even a hint of remorse.”
Powers then read his sentencing to Altherr-Miller. In addition to serving 18.75 years in prison, he will have five years of post-prison supervision, he must submit to a mental health evaluation, and he will be registered as a sex offender.
Contact Cherise Kaechele at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow Cherise on Twitter @lgoKaechele.