EFFINGHAM — One of the two men linked by authorities to the apparent overdose death of an Effingham woman earlier this month has pleaded not guilty to possessing heroin.
Jay C. Miller, 22, of Altamont waived formal arraignment during a brief Monday morning appearance in Effingham County Circuit Court. Miller was indicted last week on one count of possession of a controlled substance. He is accused of possessing an undisclosed amount of heroin on Feb. 7.
Authorities believe Miller and co-defendant Albert D. Church may have contributed to the Feb. 5 death of Jessica James, 29, by arranging for the woman to receive heroin.
Judge J. Marc Kelly set Miller's pretrial for 10:30 a.m. April 1, with jury selection scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. April 14.
Church, who is charged under the theory of accountability with delivery of a controlled substance, also appeared in court Monday. Though Kelly offered Church the opportunity to ask for a new attorney in the wake of Conflict Public Defender Richard Runde's extended illness, Church told the judge that he was willing to wait until Runde recovered before proceeding any further with a defense.
Kelly re-set the hearing for 11 a.m. March 3, but told Church that he would consider appointing a new attorney if Runde was still unable to appear on his behalf.
Assistant State's Attorney Ralph Fowler said he expected Runde to be out at least another two weeks.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at email@example.com