A Sonoma County jury deliberated two days before convicting a Cloverdale man late this afternoon of the first-degree murder of his sister’s boyfriend last year. The jury also convicted Jarrod Miller, 30, of intentionally discharging a firearm, first-degree residential burglary with the intent to commit murder, and personal use of a gun. Miller faces 50 years to life plus 16 years in prison when he is sentenced April 27 in Sonoma County Superior Court.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Scott Jamar, told the jury in her closing argument that anger and resentment fueled Miller’s plan to kill 29-year-old Timothy Neuer. Neuer considered Miller a “mooch” and too dependent on him and Amanda Miller, Ravitch said. Miller lived with Neuer and his sister at their Healdsburg home where the murder occurred on March 8 before he moved to a Cloverdale home that Neuer and Amanda Miller also were renting, according to trial testimony.
“Mandy is all this man had left. His family was not there and she was his lifeline. Tim wanted him out and Mandy said give him notice. He transitioned to the Cloverdale house, but he’s on his way out,” Ravitch said in her closing statement Monday. Miller rented a car and drove to Nevada to buy a semi-automatic handgun, according to trial testimony. “What we have here is a man who’s thinking things through,” Ravitch said, arguing for a first-degree murder conviction. Neuer and Jarrod Miller had a confrontation at the Cloverdale house shortly before the murder. Miller then drove to the Healdsburg house that night to talk to Neuer and sat on a couch next to his sister while Neuer was having his head shaved in the bathroom, according to trial testimony.
Amanda Miller testified her brother shot Neuer three times when Neuer came out of the bathroom, then told her, ‘It’s going to be OK now Mandy, it’s going to be all right.’ Miller was soon arrested while driving on Old Redwood Highway. A California Highway Patrol officer found the murder weapon in a vineyard 500 yards from where Miller was stopped. Defense attorney Joseph Bisbiglia said Jarrod Miller suffers from mental illness and bought a firearm to defend himself because he was afraid of Neuer and because Neuer and Amanda Miller were growing marijuana. Bisbiglia said Neuer “stormed out of the bathroom” and was “towering over” Miller when he said ‘get the f— out of my house’ just before the shooting. Miller was in fear of his life and “just snapped,” Bisbiglia said.
Bisbiglia asked the jury to reject Ravitch’s first-degree murder argument and consider voluntary manslaughter. Bisbiglia also argued against the residential burglary charge. He said Miller’s sister opened the door of the Healdsburg house when she saw her brother outside that night. Bisbiglia said his client just wanted to talk to Neuer and had no intention to draw Neuer out of the bathroom.
After the sentencing Ravitch said the jury “did an excellent job.” “We’re pleased with the verdict. Justice was served,” she said. Ravitch said the case was a challenge because it involved emotional issues of domestic violence and mental illness. She said trying the case with Jamar was beneficial to her office staff, some of whom attended parts of the trial to watch and share the experience. Ravitch recently has been teaming seasoned and less experienced prosecutors in the courtrooms.
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