Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Photos at center of appeal

Supreme Court considers claim that pornographic images were irrelevant

April 26, 2007


Miller's appeal stems from photos

A Lawrence man convicted of killing his wife in 2004 made an appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court today. Enlarge video

— Pornographic photographs found on the computer of Martin Miller, a Lawrence man who was convicted of killing his wife, were at the center of Miller's appeal Wednesday before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Miller, a carpenter and former Christian-school leader, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2004 strangulation of Mary Miller, who had worked at a Kansas University library.

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

On Wednesday, Miller's attorney, Sarah Ellen Johnson, said the jury in his trial shouldn't have seen the pornographic photos because they were irrelevant to the murder charge against him.

Johnson said the photos, which were allowed by Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin, improperly prejudiced the jury against Miller.

But Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said the photos were fairly used to help substantiate the prosecution's theory that Miller killed his wife because he was leading a double life.

Branson was vigorously challenged by Justice Lee Johnson, the newest member of the state Supreme Court.

"He didn't need to kill his wife to pursue that part of his life," the justice said.

But Branson said the photos and testimony about Miller's extramarital affair, juxtaposed to Miller's outward appearance as a conservative Christian, were key to the prosecution's theory of motive.

"These worlds were going to collide," Branson said. "His wife was standing in the way of him pursuing his lifestyle."

According to court arguments, two photos were shown to the jury although thousands were found on Miller's computer.

Branson was also questioned by justices about referring to Miller as "the killer" in his closing arguments to the jury.

Justice Robert Davis said prosecutors aren't supposed to call defendants "killer" until after the person is convicted. "Killer is a pejorative," he said.

But Branson said he had to prove to the jury that a murder occurred and that Miller was the murderer.

"There was no engaging in name-calling," he said.

The court is expected to rule June 8. Miller wants his conviction reversed and to be given a new trial.

Aside from attorneys in the case, Laura Cuthbertson, who married the incarcerated Miller last year, was in the courtroom. She declined to comment after the hearing.

Cuthbertson's testimony at the trial is also in dispute. Miller's defense attorney says her hearsay testimony about Miller's relationships with other women shouldn't have been allowed before the jury.


jonas 11 years ago

He doesn't defy the definition of being religious. All he has to do is believe that there is a god, and that god is manifested in a religion. Those are the only requirements.

Is he a GOOD religious person? Errr. . . . no.

gkwhdw 11 years ago

So much for him being a Christian, he defies anyone's definition of being religious. I guess I'm not interested in his circle of being christian. I wouldn't have married him after all that's happened. Just "my" interpretation of don't want tos in life.

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years ago

Everybody sins, one sin is just as bad as the other in God's eyes. But personally this way of living is not recommended. Yikes!

Jamesaust 11 years ago

"...the jury in his trial shouldn't have seen the pornographic photos because they were irrelevant to the murder charge against him."

But of course they were relevant. They were hard evidence demonstrating that Miller's public and personal lives were opposites. And, they linked Miller's own sexual demons to his wife's death.

Whatever prejudice some jurors might have against a porno-voyeur, it seems certain that they will still require actual evidence of guilt before convicting someone of murder. In Miller's case, that evidence was quite extensive.

porkchop 11 years ago

Well, I've said it before, but I, for one, am against murder!

compmd 11 years ago

I'm eagerly waiting for the day branson gets smacked down for saying something stupid. its getting closer.

I'm glad the supreme court justices here have a better knowledge of the law than our county da's office. they've posed insightful and relevant questions to branson.

branson wanted miller to go down for this no matter what. heck, wasn't there even a private coroner hired for the autopsy? and didn't branson himself prosecute this case?
he was out for blood on this case, and still obviously feels strongly about it as evidenced by running his mouth in front of a supreme court justice. "there was calling." what, was the justice hallucinating while reading the transcript or making it up?

Jamesaust 11 years ago

As a side note:

Miller recently wed in prison to a woman that, if I can keep Miller's sordid life details straight, was a friend of the adultress woman that inspired his wife murder. She testified for him at trial after helping "purge" the adultresses' apartment of material relating to Miller so as to throw off police. She also testified at trial that her relationship was not sexual merely a friend.

So, to sum up the state of law in Kansas:

A cold-blooded murder can be sentenced to death or to incarceration nor to any manner of things but (under U.S. constitutional law) cannot be punished by forbiding marriage.

But, in contrast, a same-gendered couple may neither marry or in any manner whatsoever be recognized as more than strangers-before-the-law since that would imply societal approval of their "lifestyle."

Hmmm.....more Kansas morality.

HappyFace 11 years ago

My understanding is that Ms. Cuthbertson was a FORMER friend of the mistress. When Ms. Cuthbertson heard about the murder charge she went to "council" Marty Miller....AND his kids....AND renewed her friendship with the mistress (on the pretense of comforting her). Then...she offered to help her purge the apt....saying that God sent her. To my eyes and ears....the mistress was also a victim....of both of them. Sure, she was messing with a married man (which is definately WRONG)....but she fell in love with him and believed him when he said that he was gonna get a divorce. After the murder....he dumped her and took up with Ms. Cuthbertson....then married her. Am I the only one that thinks that is a little strange??!! :~(

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