A woman and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday morning in connection with the death of the woman's adopted 8-year-old daughter.
Mandie Miller, 33, and Aleksandr Kurmoyarov, 29, both from Airway Heights,
were arrested in South Dakota in December and charged with failure to notify authorities of the death of a child, according to the Mitchell Police Department in South Dakota. They were extradited to Spokane in January.
The two are accused of beating and torturing Miller's niece and adopted daughter, Meelah. Police in Mitchell discovered the girl's body in the back of a U-Haul at Miller's mother's residence.
Miller told the police that the girl died on Sept. 10 at their Airway Heights home, 13908 W. Redding Drive, after choking. When the girl couldn't be revived, they said they laid her in bed until they could rent a U-Haul and get a casket to transport the girl's remains to the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, where Miller is a tribal member.
Kurmoyarov told police he had zip-tied Meelah to a car seat for four to six hours and slapped her twice in the face the day she died. According to court documents, he also said Miller would hit the young girl's toes with a hammer when she misbehaved. The two would tie Meelah up in the residence for four to six hours a day, he said.
An autopsy found Meelah was malnourished and only weighed 26 pounds. She had lesions on her ankles and wrists consistent with being tied up. Her death was declared a homicide.