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Grandmother of 4-year-old who died says child's mom 'deserves the death penalty'

Tianna Robinson faces capital punishment
Nahla Miller
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 07, 2022

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The paternal grandmother of a 4-year-old who died after months of abuse said the child's mother deserves the death penalty.

Tianna Robinson faces capital punishment, accused of causing the death of her daughter, Nahla Miller, in 2021. Robinson's boyfriend, Rensley Washington III, is charged with obstruction after investigators said he lied twice during the case.

Washington's pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 25, while Robinson is not expected back in court until August for a competency hearing.

Miller's paternal grandmother, Monica Greene, cried as looked at photos of the 4-year-old Monday.

"How do you hear her scream and you don’t do anything?” Greene said. “This isn’t just a children services issue. What do we do as a community to stop this or bring more awareness to child abuse?”

Miller is one of 14 children who died in Hamilton Count in 2021, according to Job and Family Services. Nine of those deaths were due to substantiated child abuse. Five cases are pending.

RELATED: JFS: Number of children killed due to abuse in 2021 climbed by one

Greene said she and her son, Nathaniel Miller, reported abuse suspicions in fall 2020 after Robinson stopped letting them see the little girl.

“We sent the police over there to a couple of (wellness) checks,” Greene said. "They don’t come to the door."

By January 2021, Nathaniel Miller applied for custody. The court date was set for April 30.

Springfield Township Police Department said April 13 Robinson called 911 to report the child passed out. Paramedics took Miller to the hospital, where doctors put her on life support.

Court documents said Robinson later admitted to punching and strangling the girl until she could no longer breathe, and doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said they observed signs of "prolonged physical abuse" when Miller was admitted.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said doctors documented a broken arm, internal bleeding and bruising as well as a burn on her hand from the incident. He said doctors noted months of prior abuse and malnutrition.

Miller was 23 pounds, half of what a healthy 4-year-old weighs, when she was admitted. She died nine days later.

“His court date was the day we buried her,” Greene said. “The day could have possibly gotten custody is the day we had to say our final goodbyes.”

In May, Deters announced he was seeking the death penalty against the mother. He said he believes the couple left the toddler alone at the home while they went to the grocery store. When they returned, she had a bathroom accident.

"She was not toilet trained, had urinated," Deters said. "The mother snaps, attacks Nahla, hits her, strangles her."

Deters said Miller endured tremendous torture while under her mother's supervision.

“She deserves the death penalty," Greene said. "She deserves 10 times over."

In June 2021, Robinson's attorneys filed a 40-page motion to dismiss the capital components of the case. They argued Ohio’s death penalty can be imposed for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons and that it is “constitutionally intolerable.”

A judge has yet to rule on that.

The following month, Robinson's attorneys argued she is incompetent. They wrote in the court document that she cries, makes incoherent responses and shuts down with her head on the table.

A judge ordered six months of mental health treatment at Summit Behavioral Health. In February, a judge ordered another six months of treatment.

Prosecutors plan to hold a pretrial hearing for Washington March 25, saying he told investigators Miller was hurt on a scooter and that he and Robinson brought her to the store with them.

Greene said parents and loved ones need to keep fighting to ensure their children's safety.

“Try harder," Greene said. "Go with your gut. If you’re thinking something’s wrong, what’s the worst that can happen? They tell you to leave?"

In addition to the motion to dismiss the death penalty component, Robinson’s attorneys have applied for a change of venue.