Next up in our #throwback story series in honor of A Crime to Remember, is another story from 1965 about the Millers and the car fire that uncovered deceit, adultery, and betrayal. Airing Tuesday nights at 10/9c on ID.
Originally published in Redlands Daily Facts on MARCH 6, 1965
Mrs. Miller Guilty Of Murder
Pandemonium Sweeps Crowded Court Room
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif (UPI) – A daughter’s tears, a close friend’s bitterness and the defendant’s disbelief Friday greeted the verdict in the Lucille Miller murder trial — “guilty of murder in the first degree.”
The jury found Mrs. Miller guilty of the fiery auto death of her husband, Dr. Gordon Miller.
As the verdict was read the 35-year-old pregnant mother of three gasped “Oh, My God, no.”
“Oh no,” shrieked Mrs. Miller’s 14-year-old daughter, Debbie, from the spectator’s section. “Oh no. Oh, no mother…I’ll never see my mother again.”
Sandy Slagle, 23, a close family friend, leaped to her feet and shouted “Oh, she didn’t do it. She didn’t do it.”
As the panel was filing out of the courtroom, Miss Slagle charted forward yelling, “You’re murderers. You’re murderers. You know she’s innocent.”
The verdict ended four days of tense deliberation. The jury now must decide whether Mrs. Miller shall be executed in the gas chamber or sentenced to life in prison. The jurors will meet Tuesday for that purpose.
No pregnant woman has ever been sentenced to the gas chamber in the state of California.
In returning the guilty verdict, the panel of eight women and four men agreed with the arguments of the prosecutor Donald Turner, who contended for the state that Mrs. Miller deliberately set fire to the family automobile and cremated her husband last Oct. 8 in order to collect his $140,000 double indemnity life insurance.
Testimony was introduced indicating the defendant had a love affair with attorney Arthwell Hayton, who admitted intimacies with Mrs. Miller. Turner told the jury Mrs. Miller saw the avenue to her desired social standing and material security through Hayton.
However, the defense, led by attorney Edward Foley, claimed Mrs. Miller was trapped by circumstance. Foley said the fire started accidentally and that Mrs. Miller was unable to pull her husband from the flaming interior.
Foley accepted the verdict calmly and attempted to comfort Mrs. Miller. Asked if he would appeal the decision, he declined to comment.
He accompanied Mrs. Miller back to her jail cell and then returned to the court and commented, “She’s in a state of shock. She just can’t believe it. She keeps saying ‘the children…the children’ over and over again.”
The penalty phase of the trial will begin Tuesday.
Cries of disbelief, near violence climax trial
By Herb Pasik
It began shortly after 4 p.m. with a note being passed to Baliff Henry Alvarez and ended less than an hour later in tears, cries of shocked disbelief, and near violence.
The note informed Superior Court Judge Edward P. Fogg that the jury had reached a verdict after a little more than 23 hours of tension-filled deliberation.
At 4:47 p.m., Lucille Marie Miller. wearing a brown wool maternity dress, entered the courtroom, accompanied by her attorney, Edward Foley.
Even as they gravely took their seats in the crowded room, the stifled sobs of her 14-year-old Debbie Miller, eldest of the defendant’s three children could be heard.
Priscilla (Sandy) Slagle, a close friend of the Miller family, clutched the young girl in her arms in an effort to calm her.
Mrs. Miller glanced nervously over her shoulder, then turned toward the front of the courtroom and clasped her hands on the table in front of her in a prayerful attitude.
Minutes later, court clerk Ruth Alexander began reading the verdict.
“We the jury…find the defendant guilty of first degree murder.”
“Oh, My God, no!” Mrs. Miller sobbed softly.
Then she turned, with a look of disbelief on her face, and started in the direction of her daughter as the teen-age girl screamed, “Oh no. Oh, no mother…I’ll never see my mother again.”
The child’s cries, as she was led away down the corridor, could be heard even as the jury members were being individually polled on the verdict.
Tears filled the eyes of a number of women in the courtroom, among them the defendant’s mother and mother-in-law.
Moments later in the corridor outside an hysterical Sandy Slagle, her eyes ablaze with hate, screamed at the jurors “You’re murderers. You’re murderers. You know she’s innocent.”
The panel of eight women and four men glanced nervously toward her as they filed back into the jury room.
Two friends grappled with Miss Slagle as she appeared to lunge toward the jurors. Then they hustled her down the hall.
Emerging from the courtroom at that moment, Prosecutor Don Turner looked in the direction of the retreating jury and said solemnly:
“There go 12 people with guts.”
Reprinted with the permission from the Redlands Daily Facts
See the original article here.
Make sure to check out the story from 1955 of little Stephanie Bryan who went missing without a trace. On next week’s all-new episode of the Emmy winning series A Crime To Remember Tuesdays, at 10/9C only on Investigation Discovery!
Photo: AP Photo