‘Midnight Rider’: Randall Miller’s Attorneys Defend Request for Early Release

Randal Miller Midnight Rider Prosecution Sarah
AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File

Randall Miller’s legal team said in a court filing on Tuesday that there was nothing unethical with his motion for an early release nor does it signal a breach of his plea agreement for charges related to the Feb. 20, 2014 train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider.”

Miller’s lawyers countered arguments made by the prosecutor in the case, who said that the director’s effort to be released from jail early showed that Miller failed “to accept responsibility in the death of Sarah Jones.”

Jones, a camera assistant, was killed on the set near Jesup, Ga., and eight others were injured. In March, Miller plead guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to two years in Wayne County Jail, and charges against his wife, producer Jody Savin, were dropped.

Miller’s attorneys, Ed Garland and Don Samuel, said that the law “expressly provides that the trial court may reduce a sentence for up to one year after the imposition of the sentence (or even later, if there is an appeal). That law is not limited to cases in which there was a non-negotiated plea or a trial and adversarial sentencing.”

They also challenged the prosecutor’s claim that Miller’s effort to reduce his sentence reflected his “arrogance” or his failure to accept responsibility. Letters from the head of the jail and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office’s lead detective in support of his request for early release were included in their filing.

They noted that when he entered his plea, the parties were aware that the sheriff would apply “good time credit” toward his sentence. His attorneys said at the time that they expected that to be after one year served. But now they cite health reasons in seeking a release earlier than that, and argue that Miller has been a model prisoner who, during his time, worked on a film project about the Drug Court. His attorneys said that Miller’s request for early release are “not fanciful or illusory,” and that he “does not deserved for be criticized or vilified for making this request.”

Judge Anthony Harrison has yet to rule. Jones’ family opposes early release.