Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 9, 2014

Miller on trial for James' death

Defense: Miller's a victim too

EFFINGHAM — While Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler said an Altamont man should be held responsible for supplying the heroin that supposedly led to the overdose death of an Effingham woman in February, Jay C. Miller's defense attorney said his client is nothing more than an addict himself.

"Jay Miller is not a drug dealer," said Public Defender Scott Schmidt. "He suffers from the same unfortunate condition that drove Jessica James to administer herself a fatal dose of heroin."

Miller, 23, is on trial this week on one count of drug-induced homicide and one count of delivery of a controlled substance. He is accused of providing a dose of heroin to Jessica N. James, 29, on the afternoon of Feb. 4. James was pronounced dead the next day. Authorities believe she overdosed on the heroin she received from Miller.

Albert D. Church, in whose Effingham apartment Miller had been staying at the time of James' death, is charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Church is being tried separately for delivery of a controlled substance by theory of accountability. He is accused of connecting James with Miller.

In his opening statement Monday, Kibler pointed to the heroin James received from Miller as the cause of her death.

"Nothing else contributed to her death other than the consumption of heroin," the prosecutor said.

Kibler said Investigator John Maguire of the Effingham Police Department would testify that he went through cellphone records for James, Church and Miller's then-girlfriend Tomeka Price, who had only been dating the defendant for about 10 days at the time of James' death. Authorities do not believe Price had anything to do with providing James heroin on the day she overdosed.

The prosecutor set up a timeline for the day James received the heroin that led to her fatal overdose, including a trip to Decatur by Miller and a friend to pick up heroin, as well as Price giving James a ride to a local bank to write a check for more than what she had in the account.

Kibler said anything other than a guilty verdict would be a miscarriage of justice.

"The only just verdict is to hold the defendant responsible for the drug-induced homicide of Jessica James," Kibler said.

Schmidt told the jury the state planned to use "an actual drug dealer" to show that Miller picked up the heroin that eventually went to James. The defense attorney said that individual, who he did not name in his statement, had an ulterior motive for testifying against Miller.

"It's going to be clear why he's doing what he's doing," Schmidt said.

Schmidt urged the jury to not make James' life more valuable than his client's.

"What Jessica James did to herself was unspeakably tragic," Schmidt said. "But Jay Miller's life is no more or less valuable than hers."

Kibler and Assistant State's Attorney Ralph Fowler began presenting the state's case immediately after opening statements. The trial is expected to end today.

For more on the trial, see Tuesday's paper.

Text Only
Local News
  • Complex support divides council All indications at Tuesday’s special meeting of the Effingham City Council indicates Effingham Park District will not get the $1 million it is asking for to help build the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center.In fact, Mayor Merv Gillenwater

    July 30, 2014

  • Correction It was incorrectly reported in Saturday’s Effingham Daily News that federal sex crime suspect Nathan Maphis was at large. Maphis is being held in Madison County Jail. The newspaper erred. Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at bill.

    July 30, 2014

  • tony- community garden 2 Learning and growing together The installation of a Effingham Community Garden sign marks the growing success of a common place for Effingham residents to cultivate plants and produce.“We have 23 large plots and two small plots out here this year,” said University of Illinois Mas

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-30 kitchen fire pic Kitchen fire damages home An unattended kitchen stove led to a full-still fire call at 507 Park Hills Drive Tuesday afternoon.A passerby made a 911 call and reported visible smoke from the eaves of the home at 1:16 p.m. Arriving on scene, Effingham firefighters entered the ho

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man fatally shot in Pana standoff, officer wounded

    Illinois State Police(ISP) and Christian County Sheriff's Office are investigating a shooting that occurred on Tuesday, July 29, in rural Christian County that involved ISP SWAT, a Pana Police officer and an armed offender.

    July 29, 2014

  • City to determine contribution A request by Effingham Park District representatives for a million dollars to help construct the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center is being considered at a special Effingham City Council meeting this evening.Some commissioners questioned

    July 29, 2014

  • 7-29 Filming PRIMARY Effingham grad returns to make film Travis Long says he learned a lot from directing his first full-length feature several years ago.“Kill Me Now was a learning experience, both in shooting and distribution,” the 1998 Effingham High School graduate said.With a full production crew and

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • McCarter.jpg Some lawmakers donate pay

    Illinois lawmakers restoring their pay after years of furlough days has prompted some state representatives to give back to their communities — a move some local lawmakers call a political one.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Distance learning catching on in area

    In what appears to be a growing trend among rural school districts, a third area school district may join an existing academic cooperative.

    July 27, 2014

  • Joshua Robison.jpg Opinion: God doesn't care about party affiliation

    Reflecting on what we politely refer to in this country as “political discourse,” I am often struck by how convinced many people seem to be that their sides' specific policies and personalities are the only way to save us all from utter ruin.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.