Courtney Centers
December 11, 1998 - January 1, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial

I have always said that babies are a little bit of Heaven shared with us by God. A baby is a wonderful gift that should be treasured. Unfortunately, not all people feel that way about babies, some feel they are a burden. In January of 2002, two of those people were in court.

Tiana Centers, a 20 year old mother, should have been celebrating the fact that she was pregnant with her third child, most of us would be. Tiana, instead, was in court charged with failing to protect her first born child, a daughter named Courtney. Tiana was not alone, Kevin Charles Miles was also in court. Both of these "people" were charged with child endangerment, which would mean a sentence of one to five years in prison. Kevin was facing and additional charged of aggravated murder and was facing the death penalty if convicted. Judge Mark W. Wall set bail for Tiana at $1 million dollars while ordering Kevin to be held with no bail at all. Prosecutor Bruce Fassler said:

"Ms. Centers knew that Mr. Miles had been abusing her children repeatedly, yet continued to
allow him near them"

Courtney's family members were in shock and didn't attend the trial:

"I don't even know if I could show up to court and look at him. I don't understand
how anyone could hurt Courtney. We had a saying, we'd tell each other, I love you
to the moon and back""

Beth Campbell - Great Aunt

While Beth had nothing good to say about Kevin, her attitude towards Tiana was one I will never understand. Beth said that she didn't feel Tiana fully understood the consequences behind her failure to protect her daughter. It doesn't take much to understand that if a child is being hit, beaten and tortured, they are suffering and what kind of a mother would stand by and ALLOW that to happen to her children? Someone who is NOT a mother at all and is someone who doesn't deserve to have children in the first place, someone who doesn't know the value of a child. Giving birth to a child does NOT make you a mother, in my opinion, it just means you know how to create a life. If you do not value that life at all, you have no business having a child in the first place. Beth said that Tiana was immature and wanted love. I wonder if Beth realizes that mostly likely Tiana's children wanted love as well.

Tiana had met Kevin on a telephone dating service just a few months prior to the death of Courtney. At the age of 27 years old, Kevin had been convicted of drug trafficking, which was a fifth degree felony. Beth did say that Tiana had some trouble with knowing the responsibilities of being a parent and some family members had tried to get custody of the children, Tiana refused and there was no legal way to get them because of what was called "lack of evidence", the children could not be taken away from her:

"Now all we can do it try to help Emily have a good life and pick up the pieces"
Beth Campbell

In March of 2002, Tina Centers was she wanted to take action against Kevin for killing her daughter. What she didn't say was that she had been writing love letters to Kevin the whole time. Judge H. J. Bressler was not buying what she was selling and in court in May of 2002 he had this to say:

"What I have in front of me is two different people"

The judge sentenced Tiana to ONLY four short years for her part in the death of Courtney, which was one year shorter than the maximum, which is what she SHOULD have received, in my opinion. Kevin had filed a document stating that the person who actually killed Courtney was Tiana. Assistant Prosecutor Craig Hedric said:

"Two people are responsible for what happened to Courtney, Kevin Miles and Ms. Center. She
allowed that child to be abused and kill, then she goes writing these letters to him.
That's reprehensible"

In the love letters, Tiana tells Kevin that she loves and want to marry him and live with him, their unborn child and Emily, the child he didn't kill. After her conviction, Tiana wrote the following to Kevin:

"You are hereby sentenced to life with me without the possibility of parole. You consequently will
be loved forever in a maximum security facility called "My Heart"'

Tiana cried as she told the Judge that she would never allow anyone to hurt her children and that they meant everything to her, she added that she would rather it had been her to die than Courtney. Judge Bressler had read the letters she sent to Kevin and he said:

"I have a hard time determining whether the tears I'm seeing are for you, or for what happened
to your child"

Court was in session and now it was Kevin's turn. On March 27, 2002, Prosecuting Attorney Craig Hedric said that on January 1, 2002, Tiana left her children alone with Kevin even though she had seen him hit Courtney the day before and he had been abusing the children all along and she knew he had a bad temper:

"She knew what he was capable of and still allowed him to care for her children"

Defense Attorney Scott Blauvelt disagreed and told the courtroom that Tiana was a caring mother who didn't have any reason to suspect that her boyfriend would beat one of her children to death. Courtney had died from internal bleeding that was caused by a two inch laceration in her liver. In addition to her liver being split open, Courtney had 43 bruises on her body and it was said that these bruises had been given to her with the last 24 to 48 hours of her death. How did Tiana NOT see that many bruises on her child? How did she NOT suspect that something was not right? She DID see these things, she just ignored them because as her Aunt said, she wanted love. Tiana put a man before her own children. In fact it was also reported that Tiana had heard a very loud smack in her house the day before Courtney was beaten to death by Kevin. Kevin had hit Courtney so hard that Tiana heard it from another room, again I ask you, is this a woman who didn't know what was going on with her children? NO IT WAS NOT!

On the day Courtney died, Tiana called a friend and asked her to baby sit while she and Kevin went to the store. What happened instead is that friend and Tiana went to the store leaving Kevin alone with the two children. Tiana would later call that friend and ask her to come over and check Courtney who was not breathing right and was just laying in bed. It was the friend, NOT Tiana, who called 911 and while they were waiting, Tiana was said to have been rocking Courtney saying over and over "My baby".

At first, Kevin denied having caused any harm to Courtney. When he was told about the medical evidence which showed how she died, Kevin decided to tell a different story:

"I believe my temper may have gotten out of hand"

Kevin said on an audio recording that was played in court, that he had hit Courtney with an open hand on her abdomen the day before she died. Kevin was upset because he had bought a sandwich for her and she hid the sandwich as well as some vomit after she had thrown up. Kevin said it wasn't a hard hit, it was only a tap. This is the "tap" that Tiana had heard that day. Later on in the tape, Kevin admitted that he had actually hit her very hard, hard enough to knock the wind out of her:

"Oh Courtney, if I hit her that one time and it killed her, I'm so sorry"

ONE TIME? The child had over 40 bruises on her body and the ONLY reason you were sorry is because you were facing a very stiff penalty for what you did. Kevin admitted that when Courtney was limp and pale,  he didn't get help for her because he figured she would get better on her own. A neighbor said that Kevin wanted to go and finish drinking his beer before he worried about medical help for Courtney.

Jim Cooper, Defense Attorney said what most of them say, a RIDICULOUS statement:

"He didn't realize what he was doing would result in her passing away"

Jim Cooper said that Kevin was not guilty due to the fact that he never meant to cause serious physical harm or to kill Courtney.

Thank God that juries get it right at times and Kevin's mother hugged him before Judge H. J. Bressler sentenced him to 23 years to life. Kevin was given a chance to speak in court and he said:

"Your honor, I don't have anything to say to you, I'd rather address the family of the victim"

Kevin faced the family members who were in court and proceeded to tell them he only made a confession to cover up for what Tiana had done to Courtney. Kevin had previously stated that he watched as Tiana had hit Courtney so many times that it had caused her death. Kevin then said that he was framed for this crime because he is a black man and that he had and all white jury.

Judge Bressler was not impressed:

"I haven't seen one drop of remorse. I watched him blame everybody but himself"

Kevin acted like a jerk by hitting his fingers on the table, smirking, shaking his head an interrupting the judge. Kevin's mother asked the judge to be easy on her son:

"Please, please have mercy on my child and grant me this one wish"

Kevin's parents said he was not a violent man and the Judge allowed her to hug him while Kevin said:

"It's gonna be alright, ma"

It was Kevin's birthday that day.

The judge said that Kevin was being given the maximum sentence because there was no worse form of offense in his mind than what had happened to Courtney.

Tonia Dunn, Courtney's Aunt showed a picture of her in court and she said that on every birthday Kevin celebrated from that day on, she wanted him to remember the fact that Courtney would have no more birthdays.

Knowing that in 23 years Kevin could be up for parole, Judge Bressler said that he would do all he could do to prevent that from happening by writing to prison officials and letting them know that Kevin should NEVER get out:

"Even if I'm not a live, they'll have the testimony of this court from the grave"
Judge H. J. Bressler

Thank you Julie for allowing Courtney to be memorialized on this site.

Death occurred in the state of Ohio

This page was created on September 10, 2014

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