The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 20, 2014

Man receives second sentence

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL bhuchel@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — A Hoopeston man who pleaded guilty several years ago to the fatal shooting of his wife during a domestic dispute is going to prison for a lesser offense.

Steven Miller, 38, of Hoopeston, agreed in January 2006 to plead guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the Sept. 5, 2005, shooting death of his wife, 36-year-old Eva R. Miller. However, the Fourth Appellate Court reversed that plea in December 2012 and granted him a new trial as a result of Miller’s appeal.

Then-Judge Michael Clary accepted a request by Miller to withdraw his guilty plea on March 22, 2013.

On Tuesday, Miller appeared in circuit court and entered a new plea agreement, pleading guilty to a charge of second-degree murder for 20 years in prison and a charge of aggravated battery for 25 years in prison. The terms will run concurrently.

In addition, Miller was given credit for a little more than eight years, five months served in prison and county jail as part of the sentence.

The appeal by Miller and the appellate court’s decision revolve around a discrepancy between the terms of the plea agreement and facts of the case presented during court proceedings by then-Assistant State’s Attorney Larry Mills.

The plea was to an amended first-degree murder charge that did not state the use of a firearm in the killing. However, Mills — in his factual statement to the court — made reference to the fact that the murder was as a result of a shooting.

In the plea he entered in January 2006, Miller admitting to shooting his wife as part of a domestic dispute at their home on Lincoln Street in Hoopeston.

At the time, the state’s attorney’s office contended Miller thought his wife was having an affair with a co-worker. The couple argued and he went upstairs and retrieved a .380 pistol. He came back downstairs and confronted his wife.

Miller pointed the gun at the woman from a distance of 2 or 3 feet. As she reached for the gun, he squeezed the trigger and a single gunshot struck the woman in the face.

As a result of the gunshot, Eva Miller’s body fell into a chair. Mills said her husband tossed the firearm on her stomach and placed her hand on the gun to portray it as a suicide. Miller later recanted his story that he had discovered his wife when he came home from work.