WILLIAMSON — Joshua Bly Miller, who had been found guilty by a jury of his peers on Sept. 13 of a felony count of reckless DUI causing the death of Adam York and the misdemeanor charge of DUI causing bodily injury to Zachary Smith, was present in Mingo County Circuit Court yesterday for his sentencing hearing, but after several hours of testimony and arguments by the prosecution and the defense ensued, it was rescheduled for Oct. 29.
According to information provided by Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks, Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury postponed the actual sentencing part of the hearing until a later date to allow time to review post-conviction testimonies provided by family members of the victim, statements given in support of Miller and motions made by the defense and the prosecutor before making a decision regarding sentencing in the case.
This case stemmed from an accident that occurred on Oct. 13, 2011, in which York was killed and Smith was seriously injured. The wreck happened during the early morning hours near Dan’s Branch on U.S. 119 after four friends, Miller, York, Smith and Paul David Howard, Jr. were traveling back to the Williamson area following several hours spent at a strip club in Logan. The vehicle, owned by Miller, allegedly traveled across the median, overturned and came to rest against the hillside on its top. York and Smith were reportedly inside the backseat of the vehicle at the time of the accident. York was pronounced dead at the scene and Smith was transported to an area hospital and was then air-lifted to a Critical Care facility in Huntington where he remained a patient for over a month and went through several surgeries.
Miller suffered minor injuries and was arrested at the scene for DUI. Howard, who had no reported injuries, allegedly fled the scene before law enforcement arrived and caught a ride with a passerby back to Williamson, and testified during the trial that he couldn’t remember any details surrounding the wreck. Miller’s defense attorney Brain Abraham had argued throughout the trial that Howard, not Miller, was the driver the night the horrific crash occurred and not the front seat passenger as he claimed to be.
The jury only deliberated for 2-3 short hours before returning with the guilty verdict against the defendant. Miller, who had been on home-confinement since his indictment, was immediately taken into custody following the conclusion of the trial and is now incarcerated in the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden, where he was once employed as a correctional officer.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Sparks stated that oral arguments were provided by both he and Abraham. Impact statements were presented by the victim’s family. Abraham filed several motions that will be reviewed by the judge, along with the response offered by the state. A written opinion will then be rendered by Thornsbury and will be delivered at the sentencing hearing for Miller that was rescheduled for Monday, Oct. 29, at 9 a.m.
In a press release that was sent to the Daily News following the September trial, the prosecuting attorney offered the following statement.
“Justice was achieved in the case of the State of West Virginia vs. Joshua Bly Miller. I thank the jury members for their exceptional judgment, service and citizenship,” said Sparks.
“This was and will continue to be a tragic case with enduring consequences. Adam Ray York, a young man who was only 22 years of age prematurely lost his life because of drunk driving. York’s family will continue to mourn the loss of a spirited and loving son and brother. Another young man, Zack Smith, barely survived the violent crash only by the wondrous grace of God, but suffered permanent injuries. And yet another young man, a remorseful Josh Miller, will have to bear the consequences of criminal justice and lifelong guilt.”
“May God bless all of the families involved in this case with strength and comfort in these troubled times.”
“The words ‘drunk driving kills’ are more than just a catchphrase, it is a terrible, painful reality,” concluded the prosecutor.
Miller is exposed to a sentence of confinement in a state correctional facility for an indefinite term of not less than 2 years nor more than 10 years in connection with the reckless DUI causing death conviction, and an additional sentence of confinement in a regional jail facility for an indefinite term of not more than 1 year in connection with the DUI causing bodily injury conviction.