Defense rests after accused cop killer's sister testifies on his behalf

Defense calls no other witnesses

The jury will begin deliberating Wednesday in the trial for a man accused of killing two Kissimmee police officers.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The defense rested Tuesday afternoon after accused cop killer Everett Miller's sister testified on his behalf.

Shavon Sutton told jurors that her brother changed after he left the military.

Sutton said he lost his job and his girlfriend and wasn't showering regularly in the months before the murders of Kissimmee police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard.

"I noticed that he wasn't showering very often, was wearing the same clothes twice a week," Sutton said.

Sutton also said Miller would act jumpy and she'd have to announce herself when she walked into his room.

Sutton told jurors Miller felt someone was watching him.

"Riding in the car one day he was acting weird, saying someone was watching him," Sutton said. "He was ducking as if someone was right next to him."

Miller's defense attorneys showed jurors a video that Sutton recorded on July 11, 2017, about five weeks before Miller was arrested for double murder, when she drove Miller to the Kissimmee Police Department.

Sutton said it shows an officer hugging Miller, trying to console him while he was crying. Before her testimony, Judge Greg Tynan ruled that Sutton could not mention that she believed Miller was having a breakdown at the time.

When Sutton didn't show up to court Tuesday morning, Tynan signed an order authorizing deputies to pick her up and bring her to court to testify.

After Sutton's testimony, the defense rested its case.

Closing arguments began Tuesday afternoon after the judge read the 17-page jury instructions to jurors.

Sutton was the only defense witness who testified on Miller's behalf.

Miller chose not to take the stand.

"I will not be testifying," Miller told the judge.

Originally, Miller's defense team had four witnesses scheduled to testify.

One witness could not be located for a month by a defense investigator.

Other witnesses either declined to testify, were deemed unnecessary by the judge, or canceled by Miller's defense team.

Miller told the judge he had a problem with one of the planned defense witnesses not testifying.
Miller said he believed the witness was concerned about "repercussions" from his testimony. 

"You understand your attorneys don't know what he's going to say and there's a risk?" Tynan asked Miller.

"I understand," Miller said.

"You understand they've made a strategic decision not to take that risk?" Tynan asked.

"Yes," Miller replied.

After closing arguments are complete, Tynan will send the jury home. Jurors will return at 8 a.m. Wednesday to begin deliberating Miller's fate.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Miller faces the death penalty. 

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.