Prosecution rests in penalty phase for Kissimmee cop killer

Everett Miller could face death penalty

The state rested Tuesday during the penalty phase of Everett Miller's trial.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the penalty phase for a man convicted of killing two Kissimmee police officers in August 2017.

A jury convicted Everett Miller in September in the fatal shooting of Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard.

Jurors will soon have to recommend if Miller should face life in prison or the death penalty.

Miller was brought into the Osceola County courtroom shortly after 9 a.m. The state's opening statements began at about 10 a.m. and lasted for 20 minutes.

Prosecutors spent the morning trying to convince jurors that Miller killed the officers in a premeditated, cold and calculated way. They said he was anti-police and even called on Miller’s friend who testified that Miller had several guns in his car when they met up two months before the murders.

The defense, however, maintains there was no time for premeditation because it all happened so fast. They also say Miller, a Marine veteran, suffers from PTSD and depression.

‪Officer Baxter’s widow, Sadia Baxter, said her husband’s death has been a forever nightmare.

"How can I rest, knowing that I am the sole provider to my girls because their father was taken," she said. "Never in a million years would I have thought my husband, Matthew, would be shot and murdered. On top of Matthew being taken from me, I also lost my friend and Sgt. Sam Howard."

Sadia Baxter is raising the couple's three young daughters.
"Now 3 years old, Zara has cried out to me, begging me to take her to heaven to see her daddy," said Baxter.

The penalty phase begins for Everett Miller, who was convicted of killing two Kissimmee police officers.

Matthew Baxter's sister became emotional while reading her impact statement. 

"I wish that he was here. I miss him so dearly and I wish that he was here," Elizabeth Sawyer said. "He was the most amazing brother. I’ll never forget the impact he had on my life."

Howard's stepfather also read a statement.

"Sam was great and good at everything he did. But he was taken from us way too soon," Jeffrey Surran said.

The defense will continue calling witnesses Wednesday morning.

The penalty phase is expected to last at least a week.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.