James Miller of Texas will serve 10 years probation for killing his neighbor, Daniel Spencer in 2015. If this sounds a bit lenient, it is made worse by the fact that Miller used “gay panic” as his defence. And it worked. Miller was charged with manslaughter but was found not guilty, and so, will only serve probation for a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
The jury recommended Miller serve 10 years probation and the judge was required to honor that, but also added a maximum allowed six months jail time, 100 hours of community service, a $11,000 payment in restitution to the victim’s family and use a portable alcohol monitoring device for at least a year.
The Prosecutor Matthew Foye says the judge’s maximum penalty and the fact that the jury didn’t let Miller off on his self-defense claim reinforces what he hoped to prove.
Miller and Spencer were drinking and playing music together and never claimed that Spencer intended to hurt him in any way. So, he acted in self defense of being hit on? Let that sink in. Some guy killed another man for coming on to him.
“It was so uncharacteristic of Mr. Miller that for him to engage in this behavior clearly had to be an act of self-defense,” Miller’s defense attorney told the jury. This “behavior” that the attorney can’t even name would be having someone of the same gender make a pass at you? Well, good to know that he’s only a killer, and not a gay killer.
Marsha Spencer, the victim’s mother said, “I have a huge hole in my heart. Something’s wrong in the world when you lose your child before you go. I’m tortured by the thought of how Daniel died and I’m tortured by the fact that he suffered and that he was alone when he died. It’s a loss that cuts deeply.”
The jury apparently didn’t care about his mother’s tortured thoughts or hole in her heart. No, they were more concerned about the idea of a gay man supposedly making a pass at a straight man.
There is a push from the American Bar Association to ban the “gay panic” defense and it has been banned in several states, including Texas. In December, Illinois became the second state to ban it and California banned it in 2014.
Too late for Daniel Spencer though, isn’t it?