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Veteran who killed 2 Florida police officers was ‘epitome of a Marine,’ military witnesses say
Military colleagues told jurors Everett Glenn Miller was the "epitome of a Marine" before he shot and killed two Kissimmee, Florida police officers in 2017.
"Miller was probably one of the finest Marines I've ever served with," retired U.S. Navy Capt. Thomas Leech, Miller's commanding officer, testified Thursday. "He wore the uniform impeccably. He was on time to everything. He respected everyone. He treated everyone fairly."
Three colleagues testified they were shocked when Miller made posts on social media months before the killings that railed against the government, police and white people — something they said was completely out of his character. Clarence France, a retired Marine Corps major and warrant officer, said he sent a message to Miller after seeing the posts.
"I said, 'Hey brother, what's going on? This isn't you,'" France said. "'But the posts continued. ... I unfollowed him but I didn't stop worrying about him. I knew there was something wrong with him."
The testimony about Miller's military career and his change in personality came as jurors weigh whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison. Miller, 48, was found guilty in September of first-degree murder in killings of Sgt. Richard "Sam" Howard, 36, and Officer Matthew Baxter, 26.
All 12 jurors will have to recommend capital punishment for Miller to be sentenced to death row.
Miller joined the Marines in 1989 and was deployed to Iraq twice, according retired Navy Capt. Art Cody, a military expert testifying for the defense. In 1992, he was court-martialed and charged with waving a weapon at someone and disorderly conduct, but was only found guilty of the second charge, according to Cody.
Miller rose the ranks quickly for his leadership skills and became a master sergeant. He worked for Leech as a senior enlisted adviser in the joint intelligence center of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa.
Leech told jurors he wrote reports in which he called Miller the "quintessential Marine," recommended him for promotions and saw him mentoring junior officers.
"The way the troops respected him, I knew that was the kind of person I needed to work for me," Leech said. "He advocated for his people every day."
France, who was Leech's second-in-command, said Miller was an imagery analyst before retiring in 2010 and was always professional.
"He was the epitome of a Marine," France said. "His troops ... looked up to him. He was just a terrific Marine."
After retiring, Miller worked as a private defense contractor targeting enemy combatants with drone strikes, witnesses said. He was sent to work in an Afghanistan base that was targeted by strikes and suicide bombers, and a colleague observed him having nightmares, psychologist Steven Gold testified Wednesday.
Gold said Miller has post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled to adjust to civilian life.
Miller's colleagues told jurors he was friendly and never prejudiced toward anybody, but during the summer of 2017, he make angry comments on social media about police brutality toward African Americans and talked about killing white people.
Miller's father, Rufus Miller, testified his son grew up a "happy little boy." After Miller was involuntarily committed a month before the shooting for running outside in his boxers with a high-powered rifle, his father told jurors he visited his son at the hospital.
"He wasn't himself," Rufus Miller said. "He was balled up in like a fetus position. He was crying."
Miller's attorneys have argued the shooting wasn't premeditated, but prosecutors said he was motivated by his hatred of law enforcement.
Baxter was conducting a routine check on three people the night of Aug. 18, 2017 when a witness said Miller suddenly drove up and started arguing with him for "messing with his people."
Baxter called Howard to the scene. After an argument, Miller ambushed the two cops, shooting each of them in the head and face, prosecutors said.
Miller was later arrested at a bar on Orange Blossom Trail.
Testimony from defense witnesses will resume Friday morning.
©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.