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First day witnesses, opening statements and forensic report

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The trial of a father and son accused of killing their neighbor during a fight in an Abilene alley over trash began Jan. 24.

Both Johnnie Dee and Michael Miller have been charged with the murder of Aaron Howard, who was fatally shot in an alley in the 4300 block of Don Juan Street on September 1, 2018. The defense pleaded not guilty and declared that the Millers had acted. of self-defense, while the state argues that Johnnie and Michael Miller are guilty and should be charged with murder.

KTAB/KRBC was present on the first day of the trial: here is a summary of January 24.

State opening statement:

On the first day of the trial, the state’s opening statement said Justin Campbell, who lived with Howard, threw a box spring in the dumpster five days before the incident.

Kara Box, Howard’s girlfriend at the time, and Campbell heard Howard say to put the mattress back, to which Johnnie Miller pulled him out of the dumpster and pulled out his handgun, according to the opening statement. .

Miller then pointed the gun at Howard, who was in a car with family members. Howard told Johnnie Miller he was pointing the gun at his nieces and nephews and Box pulled out his phone to film the interaction.

According to the statement, Micheal Miller walked out with a shotgun and Howard was furious, scared and disarmed.

Howard told the Millers “If you point that gun at me, I’ll kill you.” In response, Johnnie Miller started a fight saying “I doubt it” and “Take your swing”.

From that point, the state said Johnnie Miller fired two shots and Howard leaned to the side and was shot in the forearm and then in the chest. Howard threw a bat at Miller, then Johnnie fired twice more and Micheal Miller fired once, hitting him in the side of the head. After the two extra hits, Howard fell to the ground

The state concluded the opening argument by saying the Millers’ belief of using self-defense was false.

Defense opening statement:

The defense said Howard had a history of violence.

Between May and September, the defense said Howard yelled, swore and threatened to kill the code enforcer. After that, Box and Howard fought on the lawn and people nearby came out because the commotion was very strong.

In the summer of 2018, Howard and his brother fought in the front yard, drawing blood, and assaulting his girlfriend and brother. On August 28, 2018, Howard was upset by a mailman in his yard and ran towards them

On the evening of the incident, the defense said Johnnie Miler was taking out the trash when he saw a vehicle, a trailer and a woman. He heard “Hey, he’s here, come on” and got scared. He retrieved a gun and returned outside to prevent the box spring from being placed on his door, which the defense said had happened in the past.

Howard started threatening him and Miller pulled out the gun and pointed it down. Howard then threw objects at the Millers. The defense argued that the Millers acted out of fear when they shot Howard.

They hit him in the chest and forearm and the defense said the shots didn’t stop Howard from heading towards them and said people ‘missed three quarters of the video’ . The defense ended opening argument with a call for action to find the Millers not guilty.

Witness – APD Officer:

An Abilene Police Department patrol officer was taken to the stand as a witness. The officer said he was one of the first to arrive on the scene and saw a young man pull out a shotgun. He said he saw part of the victims’ skulls missing.

The officer added that Johnnie Dee had a gun in his possession and that Michael Miller had a shotgun. The officer also took pictures, because something had been moved.

By the time the first officer arrived on the scene, Howard was moaning and in pain.

Witness – Kara Box:

Kara Box, Howard’s girlfriend, has shared some information about him and their relationship. She said they met in high school and became a couple in 2017, although they dated in 2013 for a few months.

Box said she left a bad marriage and he got her through it and even though they were arguing it was “normal couple stuff”.

Box recalled on September 1, 2018 that the mattress was on their property and Campbell went to throw it in the dumpster. They went to the alley to throw out the trash, where they saw Johnnie Miller. At that time, she said no one had any weapons.

Once Johnnie showed a gun, she started recording the altercation on her phone. She said he yelled a lot and she told him she was recording “just in case”. Box said Howard paced and got in Milers’ face, but backed off.

Box explained that Howard was angry because he was protecting his family. She continued filming and got in between and sobbed that she didn’t want anything bad to happen.

She remembers being in between when shots were fired, but does not remember what caused the first shots. Box explained that she had lost her balance and her ears were ringing.

When Box regained consciousness, she saw Miller shoot again and screamed as Howard fell to the ground. She said the top of her head was missing and that Micheal Miller was holding a gun to Campbell’s head and Johnnie was holding one to his own.

Medical-legal report:

Medical Examiner Dr. Tasha Greeburg spoke about the medical-legal report. She discovered that Howard had suffered a gunshot wound to his right forearm, another to his chest and left lung, and a head wound.

She ruled the injuries to his lungs and head were fatal and he had an enlarged heart, clogged arteries and reduced oxygen. Greeburg also said Howard had an underlying heart condition and the autopsy report showed the cause of death to be the gunshot wound to the chest.

Witness – Justin Campbell:

Campbell, a longtime friend of Howard’s, shared that Howard can be aggressive and intimidating at times. On September 1, Campbell saw the mattress in their yard and when he went to throw it in the dumpster, Johnnie Miller came out and pointed a gun at the ground. He grabbed a baseball bat, at which Howard grabbed the larger end of the bat. After the first two hits, Howard pitched the bat, and Campbell doesn’t recall Howard heading for the Millers.


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