Chris Miller, middle, hugged and got a kiss from his mother Rita and two daughters De’Nazha Miller, left age 17 and Chareale Miller, right age 22 as Miller was released following 16 years imprisonment Cuyahoga County Justice Center last week.
Seafood and a LeBron James shirt, Christopher Miller, 41, desired after 16 years of false imprisonment, numerous appeals denied, his daughters growing up and his mother’s years of praying for her only child, finally answered. In open court, Thursday, June 21, Judge Hollie Gallagher announced Miller’s freedom.
“The evidence proves he (Miller) did not rape the victim…You are ordered released from county,” said Gallagher.
A moment of quietness, a gasp, hugs, claps, then the cheers and tears, filled the courtroom. Miller appeared reluctant to move from his chair and innocently asked, ‘when?’
“He (Chris) said his plan is to go get seafood and the first thing his wants is a LeBron t-shirt, after he hugs his kids. His mother’s only child was taken away. He said he stayed strong for his family,” said Ann Godly.
The family gathered in celebration, Thursday evening, with his mother, Rita, close on one side of Chris and daughter, on the other, at Beachwood’s Red Lobster Seafood Restaurant. Joined by the University of Cincinnati Ohio Innocent Project (OIP) attorneys, several fellow wrongfully convicted, friends and supporters, the tables in the room filled with chatter, laughter, seafood and a LeBron t-shirt.
“It’s so rewarding seeing him (Miller) with his family. That was the highlight and for Chris to see some finality,” said Brian Howe, OIP attorney.
On April 28, 2001, a woman walked from her car to her apartment on Euclid Heights Boulevard, Cleveland Hts. Two men, one gun-armed, forced her inside her home, raped her, stole money and her cellphone, according to court records. The following day, police arrested Miller with the woman's cellphone, he recently utilized. He said he bought it on the street in exchange for drugs and provided an alibi. The woman identified him as the gunman and rapist. A state informant, Charles M. Boyd, testified and claimed he provided lookout skills for Miller and Charles M. Stadmire. In 2002, a jury found Miller guilty and sentenced to 40 years for a myriad of charges including, intimidation, aggravated burglary, robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault and rape. Stadmire received 43 years in prison and Boyd got five years in prison in exchange for his testimony.
“The tough part with these exonerations is victim identification. It’s clear he did not commit rape. My policy is to assist individuals immediately. We work hand in hand with the Innocent Project. We are cooperative. We look for justice. Justice was done today,” said Prosecutor Michael O’ Malley.
New DNA test results, acquired through the OIP, excluded Miller as the culprit, included only Boyd and Charles Stadmire as perpetrators and OIP also found undisclosed police reports with inconsistencies in the woman's identification of Miller. Boyd, with a long criminal record, arrested Thursday afternoon and scheduled a July 5 arraignment for perjury, rape, kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
O’Malley said Miller’s exoneration is the fourth since he took office in January 2017.