Case Update: Mom’s Boyfriend Accused of Killing 4-Year-Old Autumn Horak Pleads Guilty

Autumn Marie Horak of Milwaukee
Autumn Horak.

Jerome Millen Jr., a Milwaukee man charged with killing his girlfriend’s four-year-old daughter, appeared in court today and changed his former plea of not guilty to a guilty plea.

Autumn died on February 28, 2020 in the home where she lived with her mother, Christina Collado; Jerome Millen Jr.; and Autumn’s baby brother. At the time of Autumn’s death, her mother was five months pregnant with Jerome’s baby. Christina told police that she had seen her boyfriend abuse her daughter multiple times, and on the day of Autumn’s fatal injury, Christina reported seeing Jerome “slam [Autumn’s] head into the floor twice and then held a pillow over her face, smothering her.”

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Autumn’s death a homicide caused by suffocation.

During today’s 2:00 PM hearing, which was live-streamed live on YouTube, Jerome appeared via video conference with his attorney, Matt Ricci, before Judge Michelle Havas and prosecutor Michael J. Lonski. The court was informed that the parties had reached an agreement. Jerome pleaded guilty to three charges: one count of first degree reckless homicide, a class B felony, and two counts of child abuse causing intentional harm, a class H felony. 

Jerome Millen Jr's mugshot
Jerome Millen Jr.
(Milwaukee County Jail)

Jerome was originally charged with physical abuse of a child resulting in death, which is a class A felony that could have earned him life in prison if convicted. It appears the state’s plea agreement amended that class A felony charge to three lesser charges. A class B felony is punishable by up to 60 years in prison; each class H felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison term of up to six years. 

Judge Havas confirmed the guilty plea with Jerome and advised him of his constitutional rights and the maximum penalties he could incur when sentenced, and she found that he “knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently” waived his rights. He was remanded into the custody of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department.

The maximum sentence Jerome, who is 23 years old, could receive would be 72 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Sentencing for Jerome Millen has been scheduled for 2:00 PM on Friday, October 9, 2020. Autumn’s mother, Christina Collado, is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:00 AM on Thursday, September 24; she faces up to 60 years in prison for her guilty plea to chronic neglect of a child resulting in death, a class B felony.

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Autumn’s case.

Sources: Wisconsin Circuit Court website, Wisconsin criminal statutes

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