Miller pleaded guilty last year to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in connection with the Feb. 20, 2014, train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider.” Camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed and eight others were injured.
A judge modified Miller’s sentence, after his attorneys filed a motion earlier this month to reduce his incarceration to one year. He was originally sentenced to two years in Wayne County Jail.
Although released, Miller is still in the midst of a 10-year probationary period that bars him from directing, serving as first assistant director or supervisor with responsibility for safety on a film production. He must pay a $20,000 fine within nine months of his release, and is eligible to serve his probation in California subject to the state accepting supervision.
Miller’s attorney, Ed Garland, said the director would not be issuing a statement at this time.
John Johnson, the chief prosecutor in the case, said that the release came after they discovered that Georgia case law did not authorize a sentence in which an inmate served more than one year at a jail facility, as opposed to a prison.
At the time of Miller’s original sentencing, Johnson said that there were also discussions with Miller’s attorneys that he would be eligible to be released at this point anyway under a 2-for-1 credit program in which the Wayne County sheriff could decide to free inmates early. While “we didn’t guarantee it,” Johnson said, “we expected that to happen under the circumstances.”
Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth, were at the hearing, and her father read a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome.
In an interview later on Wednesday, Richard Jones said that he and his wife had agreed to a plan in which the director would serve two years in jail, a less-strict environment, and not in the prison system, after being told that he “would not fare well” otherwise.
“Out of sympathy we agreed,” he said.
Johnson said that when they were negotiating a plea arrangement last year, they determined that under prison system guidelines, Miller actually could have been released even earlier, after six to eight months served, than the year
Jones said prosecutors apologized for making a mistake. But he said that they would not have been fine with Miller’s plea agreement had it been one year.
Jones said that he told the court that they “were not looking for revenge of any kind; we were looking for accountability.”
“Sarah Jones is gone from this world, and we can’t get her back,” Jones said. “However, this is not only about Sarah but the living, and those people in the film industry who may be placed in a dangerous situation.”
He added, “It is what it is. We have done what we can do. We want to get this behind us. It is about making the film industry safer, and hopefully, our foundation can help.”
The Joneses have established the Sarah Jones Foundation to promote and improve on-set safety.
Deadline first reported on Miller’s release on Wednesday.