Monday, November 26, 2007

Jury To Decide Fate Of Homeless Man Who Killed On Easter Sunday

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Lionel Miller stabbed Chris Smith's mother in her Delaney Park home last Easter Sunday. Last week, a jury found Miller guilty and Monday, the penalty phase started.

Jurors could decide as early as Tuesday if they want Miller to live or die. Jerry Smith's son and his wife shared their heart-breaking stories about her, who she was and how much they miss her. Her son, Chris, a well-known and tough criminal defense attorney in Orlando, broke down as he shared his deep, personal pain with the jury.

"How do you measure the loss of the person who is responsible for giving you all that you have," Chris Smith asked the jury.

Chris told the jury how she raised him on her own and developed a career at a time when single mothers were not well thought of or well treated. She moved to Orlando to be close to his children, just ten doors away.

Her greatest fear was being murdered by a stranger. Her family assured her that Delaney Park was safe and that there was no need to be locking her doors as she always did. They never thought a homeless man named Lionel Miller would enter the picture and murder her in her own home.

"I feel I didn't take care of her as I should when she was vulnerable. That I was not there to protect her when she was in danger, but mostly I regret that I lacked the courage and foresight to run faster, to reach harder to push the paramedics out of the way and touch her one last time so that she could feel my love," Smith added.

Smith's wife told the jury of Jerry Smith's elegance, how she loved to read and travel and how she loved her family and took care of them.

"We have this cutting board in our house that she always used to spray with Windex and we always used to tease her about it and now I spray that cutting board every day," said Mimi Smith, Jerry Smith's daughter-in-law. "It's funny what you remember about people."

Miller should not have been in Florida last Easter. He'd already done time for shooting and killing a man 30 years ago and was on parole for armed robbery in Oregon when he skipped.

The Florida jury will decide how to stop him from doing anything like this again by giving him prison for life or a death sentence.

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