EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: After expressing “some reluctance” to accept the historic plea deal that will send Midnight Rider director Randall Miller to county jail for two years, Georgia Circuit Court Judge Anthony Harrison handed down the first-ever felony sentences to filmmakers for an on-set death, as shown in this exclusive video above, shot for Deadline by Patricia Leon.
Harrison called the death of Sarah Jones, a camera assistant killed when a train barreled through the Midnight Rider set, “a tragic accident that could have been prevented.” That caused Harrison’s reluctance to accept the plea, he said.
Elaborating further for the benefit of Jones’ family gathered in the courtroom, the judge said, “I hope that this day will in some way contribute to your goal of sending a message to the film industry regarding safety and responsibility, and thereby giving some meaning to this tragedy.”
Miller’s sentence totaled 10 years, including two years in county jail in Georgia, eight years probation in California, a $20,000 fine and 360 hours of community service, to be served in California. Harrison also sentenced Miller colleague Jay Sedrish to 10 years’ probation and a $10,000 fine. He banned both Sedrish and Miller from working as directors or assistant directors, or having control over set safety, for 10 years.
Charges against Miller’s wife, producer Jody Savin, were dismissed as part of the deal. Hillary Schwartz, the film’s first assistant director, has also accepted a plea deal and will be sentenced Tuesday.