|Murder, robbery charges dismissed against Miller
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
A judge has dismissed murder and robbery charges against the second of three suspects in the 2011 death of Paul Brewer.
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office filed a motion seeking to dismiss charges against Nickie Miller without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled at a later date.
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Keith Craycraft said the charges were being dropped because a substantial piece of evidence he expected to have in the case was no longer available.
If more substantial evidence is to come forward, the case will be refiled, he said.
Miller was charged along with two other people in the robbery and murder of 52-year-old Paul Brewer in December 2011. Brewer was found shot to death at an apartment on Natalie Drive.
Charges have already been dismissed without prejudice against another defendant, Cody Hall. The only remaining defendant is Natasha Martin. She and Hall are married, but estranged, prosecutors said.
Craycraft said the Commonwealth has no intention of dropping charges against Martin at this time. She currently faces the death penalty if convicted.
Brewer’s sister, Liz Barry, questioned how the case could deteriorate to a point that charges were dropped.
“If there was a case that has had a death penalty on the table, to me that meant evidence shows the murder indictment was strong,” Barry said in a letter submitted to the Advocate. “I question where the hearings, attorney privileges or communication otherwise took a wrong turn that suddenly changed everything.”
In the letter, Barry lashes out at the entire judicial system.
“I will say that when hearings result in the dismissal of a case (now two in Paul Brewer’s murder), I have to wonder where are victim’s rights, when will they be available,” she wrote. “I feel strongly there is a problem of injustice within the judicial process itself, perhaps from the sheriff’s office to the attorneys who represent the victim and the defendant.”
Barry, however, expressed confidence that those involved will eventually pay a price for Brewer’s death.
“I will rest when Paul’s murderers are really called to be judged,” she wrote. “If not in my time, another.”
Miller still faces drug charges in Montgomery County.
During a court appearance Nov. 20 in Montgomery County to consider the dismissal motion, Circuit Judge William “Bill” Lane also agreed to rescind a bond revocation approved when Miller was arrested on the drug charges while out on bond.
His attorney, Bridget Hofler Saunders, successfully argued that he did not violate bond because he wasn’t specifically placed on house arrest in the judge’s revocation order.
With the murder charge dismissed, that opened the door to Miller being released again on bond. The judge agreed to review a previous bond set at $10,000 at 50 percent.
The day of the court appearance, Saunders filed another motion seeking preservation of evidence in the case so it isn’t disposed of if the charges are reinstated.
Among the items Saunders wants preserved are any mail correspondence between Hall and Martin.
Craycraft asked that the evidence be placed under seal. Saunders said she preferred it left open. The judge agreed to review that issue as well.
Lane also granted the defense the right to depose a potential witness in the case, Jewell Combs. She reportedly spoke with Martin after Martin was charged with murder.
Combs is reportedly in poor health and needs to be questioned about the incident in case charges are reinstated, Saunders said. Lane agreed to the deposition of Combs as long as the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is present.
Saunders also asked the court to order that Jailer Eric Jones turn over the contents of any texts between Jones and Martin.
Jones stated in open court that there are no records to be found.
Jones did agree to provide the number of his work phone so Saunders’ investigators can seek any possible records through the service provider.