Emotional sentencing hearing held for Miller
by Ralph B. Davis
WILLIAMSON — “It’s not the natural order of life for a parent to bury their child,” stated Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury during the sentencing hearing for Joshua Bly Miller, who pled guilty to one count of DUI causing death in connection with an October 2011 vehicle crash that claimed the life of Adam Ray York and seriously injured another.
Victim impact statements were given by York’s parents (Chet and Robin York) and sister (Tracie Hatfield), and were filled with emotion as they spoke of their loved one whose life ended far too soon.
“Adam was my only son. Today – I come here with a heavy heart,” stated his father. “My world was forever changed in the early morning hours of October 13, 2011 when we received the phone call telling us about the accident. That day – my family was forced to deal with and make decisions that no parent should ever have to make concerning their child. In the midst of that horrific day, we made one decision that we haven’t waivered from. We made a pact and a promise to seek truth and justice, and that’s why we’re standing here today. Today – is Adam’s day.”
York’s family members spoke of the joy the young man had brought to their lives and said they try to focus on the happy memories of their sons’ 22 years upon this earth, but say it’s impossible to not be bitter and angry over the death of their son.
“He had begun his career as a NS conductor…he had hopes, dreams and goals and he was fulfilling them through his own hard work and dedication,” stated Robin York, Adam’s mother. “He was caring and giving…he got pleasure from doing for others. He had a smile that would light up a room.”
“Adam will forever be loved, and will never be forgotten.”
To Miller, Robin had made the following statement. “You will have to live with this all of your life. Your conscience will find you in the darkness, in the still of the night you will remember.”
Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks addressed the court and told them this was the most difficult case he had ever prosecuted.
“Four young men went out that evening to have a good time. The curse of youth is making poor decisions. They feel bullet proof at that age, but we know all too well they are not. All of them knew what they were doing. Everyone was there because they wanted to be. This was a habit for them, something they had done time and time again,” stated Sparks.
“Zach Smith was hurt in the accident and sustained permanent injuries. Another young man in the vehicle and who was the only one who claims knowledge of was who driving or any details about that night, committed the inexcusable act of leaving the scene without providing any care for those who were injured. Why our judicial system only allows us to prosecute a driver that leaves the scene and not a passenger is beyond me. This was a deplorable act of total disregard for his friends. What’s worse is that he posted cruel and heartless comments on social media sites following the accident that proves he had no remorse.”
Although Sparks does not identify the young man by name, he was referring to Paul David Howard, Jr.
“This was a very difficult case,” stated Judge Thornsbury. “So many statutes are not clear regarding the felony charge of reckless DUI causing death. There are a lot of gray areas and those need to be changed. Add in the sub-standard collection of evidence in this case by law enforcement and the juror that evaded telling the truth about his employment, and you have a mess.”
“The water was out of the dam, mistakes had already been made. Thankfully, our new sheriff has assured me that changes have been implemented and training is in place to avoid issues like this in the future.”
“I looked long and hard at this case before accepting the misdemeanor plea,” said the judge. “I could speak about this situation all day but the events that played into this case can’t be undone, the bell can’t be un-rung. The hand has now been played.”
Thornsbury sentenced Miller to 1 year in the Southwestern Regional Jail and gave him credit for the 90 days he has served behind bars. The defendant was also given credit for 90 of the 233 days he spent on home confinement, leaving 6 months on his sentence. Miller was remanded to the custody of the jail and will remain there until the end of July, when his time there will be complete.
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