UPDATE: Verdict In For Casper Murder Case
A Casper man accused of killing his wife has been convicted of second-degree murder.
A jury found 46-year old Thomas Lee Miller not guilty of first degree murder, but he was found guilty of second degree murder and aggravated assault in the death of his wife, Natalie Miller, outside a neighbor’s home, in Casper, minutes after midnight on March 27th, 2013.
After three days worth of hearings, the prosecution for the case against Miller rested Wednesday evening, after calling more than twenty witnesses to the stand.
The defense was able to begin presenting its case Thursday morning, and called a total of four witnesses, including Miller, himself.
The trial was taking place in the community of Thermopolis, following a mistrial and change of venue from Natrona County.
The jury received its instructions just before three o’clock Thursday afternoon, outlining how the jury was to deliberate the case.
While Miller was facing charges of First-Degree-Murder, the jury had the option of convicting Miller of lesser charges, if they saw fit.
These lesser charges included Second-Degree-Murder and Manslaughter.
First degree murder is defined as being an act with premeditation and malice.
Second degree murder is defined as murder with malice, but no premeditation.
Manslaughter is defined as being when a person kills another without malice, expressed or implied.
It is the distinction between these charges that took center stage during the closing arguments of the trial, following the jury instruction.
Defense attorney Robert Oldham saying that there was no question as to if Miller killed his wife.
“We’re going to ask you to convict Tom Miller of killing his wife,” Oldham said, addressing the jury. ”Because he did.”
Oldham went on to ask the jury to consider its options on what charge to convict Miller with.
Oldham asked the jury to consider the totality of the case and evidence, and heavily criticized the prosecution’s case as being two-faced or “janus-faced.”
He further submitted that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof in showing premeditation or malice, and asking for a manslaughter charge.
Assistant District Attorney, Stephanie Hambrick argued for the prosecution.
Saying that Thomas Miller had shown premeditated intent to kill his wife, siting that Miller would have had to open a combination safe, load a clip with bullets, and chase Natalie Miller out of the house before shooting her outside of a neighbor’s home.
Hambrick also pointed out that the couple’s marriage had been on the wain, with the couple often arguing.
Specifically noting that the couple had argued the day of the murder about a gambling trip Natalie Miller had taken on the day of her death.
Alcohol use by Thomas Miller on the night of the murder was also mentioned by both attorneys.
Evidence showed that hours after the murder had taken place, Thomas Miller was shown to have a blood-alcohol content of 0.17, which is over twice the limit for legally operating a motor vehicle.
Throughout Miller’s testimony, he said that he did not remember the events of the murder, and could not recall many specifics about the day preceding and the hours following his arrest.
Thomas Miller was also facing a charge of aggravated assault, for pointing a gun at a witness, who was in the Miller home, the night of the murder.
During closing arguments, Hambrick said that the charge was also very important and needs to be considered by the jury.
Oldham also said the charge was very serious, and did not dispute it, saying that both Miller and the defense asked the jury to convict him on that charge.
Miller will be sentenced at a later date.
The second degree murder conviction carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison, while the aggravated assault charge carries a maximum of 10 years.