The man convicted of killing a Goshen College professor and trying to kill his wife during a break=in has been sentenced to 115 years in prison. Winston Corbett did not speak during his sentencing hearing on Monday, Dec. 28. Corbett was convicted back in November after a years-long investigation into the death of Goshen College professor James Miller and the attempted murder of Miller’s wife.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Elkhart County released the following statement:
In the early morning hours of October 9, 2011, an intruder broke into the home of the James and Linda Miller family in Goshen, Indiana, where he viciously attacked them, stabbing each multiple times, before pursing James outside and inflicting even more injuries. Mrs. Miller was able to call 911 to summon help, and survived, but Mr. Miller succumbed to his fatal wounds.
During the initial police investigation, crime scene investigators collected and preserved hundreds of items of evidence. Although Detectives interviewed dozens of witnesses and pursued hundreds of leads, the investigation went without an identified credible suspect for approximately seven (7) years. In 2017, Detective Nick McCloughen, an Officer of the Goshen Police Department assigned to the Elkhart County Homicide Unit, had assumed responsibility for the investigation and maintained communication with Mrs. Miller. After conversations with Mrs. Miller, and training exposure to the investigative concept of genetic genealogy utilized by other law enforcement agencies in the United States, Detective McCloughen pursued genetic genealogy analysis, and the investigation began to take on a new perspective.
Genetic genealogy is a tool that investigators can use to develop possible leads based upon comparing DNA markers obtained from certain evidence at a crime scene, with public genetic genealogy databases. No raw genetic data is shared, or even identified, only the location and amount of DNA on certain genetic markers commonly used for identification in the scientific and law enforcement community. Highly experienced professionals then cross-reference DNA results with other data sources used in traditional genealogy, such as census records, vital records, obituaries, and newspaper articles, to build family trees of possible leads. Further analysis allows researchers and law enforcement professionals to narrow down a pool of possible suspects to a region, a set of families, or even, possibly, to an individual.
Upon receiving an investigative lead from Parabon NanoLabs, Inc., the genetic genealogy lab that assisted in the Miller investigation, the Elkhart County Homicide Unit looked deeper into individuals who, at the time, lived within about a mile of the Miller’s home.
In November of 2018, formal charges of Murder and Attempted Murder were filed by Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker against Winston E. Corbett, now 26 years of age, from Goshen, Indiana, as the investigation had finally resulted in the identification of the intruder. The case against Corbett was presented to a jury in early November, 2020. As the evidence unfolded, the jury heard from numerous witnesses regarding their observations the night of the attack, the collection of evidence from the scene, and from DNA experts regarding their roles in the analysis of evidence. Out of dozens of samples of blood stains found at the scene, mostly attributed to Mr. and Mrs. Miller, scientists discovered two samples of DNA identified as a mixture of Winston Corbett and Mr. Miller, and a single-source sample located within the home identified as the DNA of Winston Corbett. Corbett testified on his own behalf, calling the actions of whomever committed the attack “sadistic”, but denying involvement. Corbett’s attorney also called an expert witness who described how he changed the parameters from how the DNA mixtures were originally evaluated by the Indiana State Police scientists, and came to different conclusions regarding the mixtures. However, Corbett’s expert did not re-evaluate the single-source sample, instead commenting that the Indiana State Police evaluation of all other samples was reasonable. After almost two weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both charges.
Sentencing was held today in the Elkhart Circuit Court, where Judge Michael Christofeno handed down a maximum sentence of 65 years on Count I, Murder, and 50 years on Count II, Attempted Murder, consecutive to each other for a total of 115 years in prison, commenting on his own observations of the defendant’s level of depravity and sociopathic behaviors and attitudes. Deputy Prosecutor Donald Pitzer argued that Corbett’s use of the word “sadistic,” commonly defined as “taking pleasure from inflicting harm on other people,” was an appropriate word to encompass the heinous acts of the defendant.
Prosecuting Attorney Becker attributes the successful prosecution of this horrible crime to the thorough and skilled work of the crime scene investigators and other officers of the Goshen Police Department, the creative and relentless pursuit of justice by investigators of the Elkhart County Homicide Unit, and the professional and talented scientists of the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division, as without the talents of any of these agencies, this crime would not likely have been solved. The Miller family has demonstrated their faith as a driving factor in moving forward with their lives, notwithstanding the trauma they have experienced, and Mrs. Becker honors such in appreciating the patience they have afforded the State while diligently working to find justice and hold this threat to our community accountable for his actions.