UPDATED with motion hearing date: Randall Miller’s sister has started a petition drive to free her brother from jail. It comes just days after another petition was launched to keep him locked up. The dueling petitions were started after Miller’s attorney requested that the director receive an early release from the two-year jail sentence he received in March in connection with the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones on the set of Midnight Rider last year.
The motion for Miller’s early release will be heard on December 23.
“Please have mercy on my brother and support sending him home to his family,” his sister Lori Middlehurst wrote in a statement accompanying her petition. “My brother Randy Miller has been in the Wayne County Jail – 3,000 miles away from his wife and children – for over nine months. … He pleaded guilty because the DA forced him to make a choice no parent should have to make – take a sentence or gamble that both he and his wife would be prosecuted.” Charges against Miller’s wife, Midnight Rider producer Jody Savin, were dismissed in exchange for her husband’s guilty plea.
His sister’s petition, which was posted on the Change.org website, has been signed by about 500 people. The petition also is posted on the Facebook page for CBGB, one of Miller’s earlier films. Someone writing on the page from Jessup, GA, were Miller is incarcerated, wrote: “The director of this film was wrongly accused but took a plea to protect his wife and kids…Please sign up and forward onto all your friends.”
Here is the full text of Middleton’s petition:
Please have mercy on my brother and support sending him home to his family.
His family loves and misses him – My brother Randy Miller has been in the Wayne County Jail (3000 miles away from his wife and children) for over 9 months. He has missed his children’s birthdays, watching and coaching their sports – being there to cheer when they win and comfort when they lose, making them laugh, walking the dog, helping them with their homework, spending a quiet Sunday with his wife. He pleaded guilty because the DA forced him to make a choice no parent should have to make – take a sentence or gamble that both he and his wife would be prosecuted. He is serving a 2 year custodial sentence under an agreement with the Sheriff that he be given a credit on a 2 for 1 basis. For the reasons below his lawyers have asked for a further reduction, a reduction that might be available to any inmate. That should be a matter for the court and not one for a public petition. However, a change.org petition has been started by people who don’t know and have never met him against this reasonable request. Accordingly, to ensure that petition does not go unanswered I have started this petition, a petition for mercy and charity and forgiveness. My brother is a good man, his family and society are better served by returning him to his family so that he can once again be a productive member of society.
His health is failing him – Let me tell you a little about my brother’s life in jail in a county jail in one of the poorest counties in the country. First of all, unlike other heads of companies who have been incarcerated, he is not in a “country club.” He lives in a cinder-block building surrounded by high fences. He shares a cell with four other inmates most of whom are in jail for drug offenses. The jail has one outside space the size of a basketball court and no fitness facilities. Inmates are allowed outside for one hour a day. He is far from home and gets few visitors. He is subjected to random drug tests and strip searches on a daily basis and the food provided is highly processed and high in sugar and sodium. Most inmates are young men who are incarcerated for much shorter periods, but his longer sentence means that he is already suffering serious adverse health effects. In the last few weeks he has inexplicably put on 39 pounds, he has elevated blood pressure, a persistent cough and swollen ankles all of which are harbingers of heart disease. The people who run the jail are fair, hard-working people but they are doing a difficult job with very limited resources. There is no facility in Wayne County for him to get a proper cardio- workup and so long as he is incarcerated, no way for him to change his “lifestyle” to prevent or avoid further health damage.
He is kind, generous and giving – My brother is a good man, who has always contributed to society and his community, as an employer, by coaching kids sports, by doing charitable work, by being a loving father, brother, son and husband. Because he is a good man, since being incarcerated he has provided more than 1955 hours of charity work for Wayne County. That means on average 7 hours a day every day including Saturdays and Sundays. He has taught and counselled inmates trying to make a fresh start, worked in the laundry and assisted in the creation of a film project to address the serious, seemingly intractable problem of the revolving door of drugs in Wayne County and across the country. He didn’t have to do any of these things, but he did them simply to help. This is nothing new. He has helped the elderly and underprivileged his whole life, has given many “breaks” to actors and crew just starting out, and is always there for family and friends.
Let’s stop the hurt and start the healing – Sarah Jones’ death was a terrible tragedy and her family and friends will continue to grieve her. My family grieves her death too. However, her death was an accident. Randy’s continued incarceration will not change this or help anyone. Sadly, since this accident, the film industry has done nothing to make sets safer. Instead of working with him to determine what went wrong after over 25 years of work without a single safety issue, it has treated him like a pariah. Despite the fact that an accident like this, which was the result of multiple oversights and miscommunications could have happened on and perhaps has happened on many a set. That is not to excuse this terrible tragedy, but again, my brother did not set out that day to put anyone (including himself) in harm’s way. He has paid dearly for his failures as a leader that day, with his incarceration and separation from his beloved family, with the endless legal fees, with settlements, with post-traumatic stress disorder, with the damage to his physical health, with the damage to the career he built for 30 years. It is enough, please let’s start the healing – please join me in asking the Sheriff, John Carter, for mercy.