Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Man sentenced to death for killing 72-year-old

Attorneys Larry Henderson (left) and Gerod Hooper flank Lionel Michael Miller during his sentencing at Orange County Courthouse on Tuesday. Miller was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing an Orlando woman with Alzheimer's disease. (Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel / November 27, 2007)

Sarah Lundy Sentinel Staff Writer

7:44 PM EST, November 27, 2007

An Orange County jury recommended the death penalty today for Lionel Miller, 59, the man convicted of killing Jerry Smith, a 72-year-old grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Orange-Osceola Chief Circuit Court Judge Belvin Perry Jr. will make the final determination. A Dec. 21 hearing is set to give prosecutors and defense attorneys another chance to argue for or against the death penalty.

Miller's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 25 but it's unusual for judges to go against jury recommendations.

Prosecutors say Miller targeted Smith, figuring the woman who appeared to suffer from dementia would be easy to rob. But she put up a fight.

Neighbor - Larry Haydon - heard her screams and tried to save her. He was stabbed on his side but survived.

Smith ran out the door and into her backyard. Miller caught up and stabbed her multiple times, prosecutors said.

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