Home search yields more in Milliard case

On Aug. 9, law enforcement officers executing a search warrant descended on the 76 Long Level home belonging to Francis Anthony Milliard, 54, of Ridgway, combing the property for physical evidence that would bolster ongoing investigations and possibly lead to new cases against Milliard, who is currently incarcerated and charged with two area arsons as well as attempted homicide. Milliard is charged along with his son, Anthony Karl Milliard, 28, of Ridgway, in arsons committed at 115 First Ave. in Johnsonburg on Dec. 4, 2008 and one at 521 West Main St. in Ridgway on May 30, 2012. Francis Milliard was arrested on July 24 for the 521 West St. fire and is currently incarcerated in the Jefferson County Jail. In addition, Francis Milliard is charged with attempted homicide in the June 23, 2011 beating of Todd "TJ" Asti, 44, of Ridgway, allegedly in reaction to a debt of $240 worth of marijuana owed to Francis Milliard. According to the affidavit of probable cause, among the items turned up in the search of Milliard's home were those potentially linked with crimes for which Milliard is charged, including the attempted homicide of Asti, which left the victim in critical condition. According to the affidavit, Trooper Greg Agosti of the State Police at Ridgway stated in the initial search of the home he observed a 1976 Cadillac Coupe parked in the garage which is believed to be the vehicle Milliard drove to and from Asti's home on the night of the alleged assault. In his affidavit, Agosti stated that with the brutality of the beating and the nature of Asti's injuries, there exists a high probability that blood evidence was transfered from the scene of the assault to the vehicle via Milliard's clothing, and, "It is reasonable to believe that blood evidence may yet be detected on such fabric and on the club observed inside the vehicle."In addition, numerous wood clubs and/or baseball bats, including one inside the Cadillac, along with a black ski mask, were taken into evidence during the search. In a statement made to police on July 23, Anthony Karl Milliard stated that he had gone with his father to Asti's home the night of the assault, where he witnessed his father beating Asti with a wooden club. According to the statement, he said his father "keeps a club in each of his vehicles, usually between the driver's seat and driver's side door." Anthony Milliard said he waited for his father outside in the car at Asti's residence and became concerned after several minutes had passed, at which point he walked up to the residence where he witnessed his father striking Asti in the head with a club as Asti begged for his life. Anthony Milliard said it appeared to him from a blood trail that his father had beaten Asti from the doorway to the back of the residence. As he looked on, Milliard's father noticed him standing there and ordered him to get back in the car. As a result of the assault, Asti was left with a metal plate in his head, part of his brain removed, and a feeding tube in his stomach. According to the affidavit, Scott Lovell, an associate of Francis Milliard, told police on Aug. 5 that Milliard admitted to his culpability in the beating of Asti, with Lovell stating that Milliard claimed to have been wearing a ski mask during the attack. According to the affidavit, in the course of searching Milliard's home, police discovered 14 small explosive devices found in the dining room of Milliard's home, as well as a storage unit belonging to a home video surveillance system. According to the affidavit, Agosti stated that the surveillance system "may have captured relevant information pertaining to the crimes described in this affidavit...along with other potential crimes." The affidavit also references items observed inside Milliard's residence which Agosti stated corresponded to items listed in burglary and theft reports on file with the Ridgway Borough Police Department. Agosti stated that items uncovered at Milliard's home, including trading cards and jewelry, matched items described to police in burglary reports filed following two separate incidents in Ridgway in 2010. See full article by purchasing the Aug. 18 edition of The Kane Republican.