The Kansas Supreme Court rejected an appeal Friday filed by Martin K. Miller, a Lawrence carpenter and former Christian school teacher, who was found guilty in July 2005 of killing his wife.
Three years ago today, Mary E. Miller was found strangled to death at her central Lawrence home.
In an opinion written by Justice Robert E. Davis, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction. Miller, 48, is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Miller and his court-appointed attorney, Sarah Ellen Johnson of the Capital Appellate Defender Office, contended pornographic photos should not have been admitted as evidence in the trial.
Johnson and Miller also contended that prosecutors prejudiced the jury in closing arguments by referring to him as "the killer." Oral arguments in the case were held before the Supreme Court in April.
The court ruled that the photos - both commercial and those of Miller and Miller and his mistress, Carrie Parbs - were evidence of the defendant's relationship with another woman.
"This double life of pornography, which the defendant attempted to hide from his wife, underlies the state's theory regarding the motivation for murder," the court ruled. "The pervasiveness of the defendant's fixation and the juxtaposition of that fixation to his family life are key to the state's theory. Motive and intent are material facts in the case."
Prosecutors said the evidence of pornography was crucial to establish motive, and that references to Miller in closing arguments were appropriate.
Mark Manna, who represented Miller in the trial, said he is disappointed for his client.
"He had a lot of hopes for his appeal," Manna said.
Miller now has two opportunities to appeal in state and federal court. The appeal would likely attack the case's proceedings and whether Miller was denied a constitutional right, said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.
It is unclear whether Miller plans to make such an appeal. Johnson, who represented him in the Supreme Court proceeding, was unavailable for comment Friday.
"Any appeals on a case like this create a lot of anxiety for those involved. This is the final closure to the case," Branson said. "The evidence was overwhelming and we think justice was served."