EXCLUSIVE: The hearing to determine whether Midnight Rider filmmaker Randall Miller would be granted an early release from jail for his part in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones has been canceled. The D.A.’s office and Miller’s attorneys have conferred and determined that a hearing is not needed, according to a court official. Rather, they will be drawing up briefs and sending them directly to the judge who will then issue a ruling.
Miller was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jones’ death last year. Earlier this month, his attorneys filed a motion for his early release from jail, citing numerous reasons including good behavior, his cooperation with the state on a film project about benefits and challenges of Georgia’s Drug Court, his failing health, and that he has taken full responsibility for his crime.
However, Miller’s own attorney and Miller himself both publicly stated that he only pleaded guilty to save his wife, producer Jody Savin, from also facing jail time. They have also publicly stated that he relied on his team and that many bear responsibility for the death of Jones who was killed Feb. 20, 2014.
Shortly after being incarcerated in March straight from where he pled guilty, Miller said from jail:
“I pleaded guilty for three reasons: first, to protect my wife and family; second, out of respect for the Jones family and to not put them through a difficult trial; and, third, to take responsibility for my failure in not knowing that every safety measure was in place.
“The location manager, the production designer, the unit production manager, the cinematographer, assistant director and others all made mistakes that led to this, but I have taken responsibility because I could have asked more questions, and I was the one in charge. I have worked in the film industry as a director for 25 years and never had a significant accident of any kind on any one of my sets.”
According to the motion, he has spent his days — seven days a week from late May until the end of August — working from 6:45 AM to 10:45 PM on laundry detail. The original motion also states that on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:30-11:30AM, he helps out teaching inmates GED courses. He has also been working “editing in the corner of a multi-purpose room” on the anti-drug film for the state.
His motion set off a firestorm among Hollywood’s labor community who put together a petition to stop his early release followed by another petition asking the DGA to kick him and others who pleaded guilty of criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter (unit production manager and executive producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz) out of the guild.