Four years and one day after the death of Sarah Jones on a Doctortown train trestle, the parents of the late Midnight Rider camera assistant are back in a Jessup, GA courtroom fighting against a motion filed in December by the attorneys of Randall Miller. The film’s director is asking that California supervision, part of his plea agreement at his 2015 criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter trial, be lifted.
The argument is that California law differs from Georgia law, so in California, Miller is being treated as a parolee and not a probationer.
Richard and Elizabeth Jones addressed the court today to fight against any kind of leniency for the man whose actions led to the death of their 27-year-old daughter. “Four years ago what Mr. Miller did that caused the death of my daughter was egregious and inexcusable,”said Richard Jones. He told the court that allowing Miller to be released from supervision, and returning to his previous lifestyle of traveling the world, would lighten the message to the industry that this kind of behavior will have consequences.
Elizabeth Jones added that showing leniency will send the message to others that all they need to do is keep filing motions for reduction of time, reduction of penalties and so forth. “And I have a problem with that,” she said.
Miller’s lawyer Don Samuel first apologized to the Jones family after realizing the date was so close to the anniversary of their daughter’s death, on February 20, 2014. He told the judge that had he realized sooner, he would have likely asked for another court date.
In arguing for the leniency, Samuel said his client paid all fines and restitutions, and has been reporting and complying as required, but that in California he is not treated as a probationer due to state law. “Parolees are treated differently,” he said pointing to a statute under Georgia state law to have supervision terminated.
Specifically, OCGA (17-10- 1 (a) (2), which states:
Probation supervision shall terminate in all cases no later than two years from the commencement of probation supervision unless specially extended or reinstated by the sentencing court upon notice and hearing and for good cause shown; provided, however, that in those cases involving the collection of fines, restitution, or other funds, the period of supervision shall remain in effect for so long as any such obligation is outstanding, or until termination of the sentence, whichever first occurs, and for those cases involving a conviction under the “Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act”; the period of supervision shall remain in effect until the termination of the sentence, but shall not exceed five years unless as otherwise provided in this paragraph. Probation supervision shall not be required for defendants sentenced to probation while the defendant is in the legal custody of the Department of Corrections or the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Samuel said terminating supervision in Georgia will also terminate Miller’s supervision in California. He repeated that they are not asking to change any terms on his remaining probationary period. The lawyer also stated that the Assistant DA failed to provide good cause, so the judge should follow the legislation as it currently reads.
Wayne County Assistant DA John Johnson said Miller should continue to have to comply with probation as set forth in his sentencing, noting that Miller caused Jones’ death. He also said he would like to review the statute and prepare a brief for the judge before a ruling is made. That brief is due now Monday, and the response by Friday.