KISSIMMEE, Fla. - In September, jurors found retired Marine Everett Miller guilty of first-degree premeditated murder for the shooting deaths of Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard.
Now, the NAACP is stepping in with a petition asking the judge not to give Miller the death penalty.
It gathered 30 pages and more than 206 signatures from people in the community to support its position.
Jurors took less than two hours to find Miller guilty and now have to decide if he should be sentenced to death or get life in prison.
“My heart goes out to the officers' families, as well. It’s just sad all the way around,” said Rinda Dumas, Miller’s cousin.
Dumas and others went through the streets of Kissimmee gathering signatures on a petition for the NAACP Osceola County branch.
In the petition, the organization wrote, “We are urgently requesting that he not be sentenced to death.”
The NAACP believes Miller’s career in the Marines impacted his behavior and said even when he was homeless, he still loved and cared for his family. It doesn’t believe that was brought out at trial by his defense.
Channel 9 legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the guilt phase of the trial isn’t the time attorneys will work to show good character. He said that will come in the penalty phase of the trial.
Sheaffer believes the petition may be premature since the jury hasn’t even made a recommendation.
However, those who support the petition hope it will have an impact.
Sentencing is set for early next month.
Sheaffer said he wouldn’t be surprised if the petition gets brought up again if the jury recommends death but he’s not sure it will have much impact on the judge’s decision in a case where two police officers were murdered.
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