Judge says accused Kissimmee cop killer competent to stand trial

Everett Miller charged in deaths of Sam Howard, Matthew Baxter

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager , Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A judge determined Friday that the man accused of killing two Kissimmee police officers last month is competent to stand trail.

Everett Miller is charged with first-degree murder in the August slayings of Kissimmee police Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter.

Howard and Baxter were responding to a call in the area of Palmway and Cypress streets that is known for drug activity when they were shot, police said.

The state of Florida also announced Friday that it will seek the death penalty against Miller.

Miller's case is among 30 reassigned to State Attorney Brad King by Gov. Rick Scott after Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced earlier this year that she would not seek the death penalty in any case.

After the Florida Supreme Court ruled against her, Ayala said she would form a seven-person panel consisting of assistant state attorneys from her office to determine if her office will seek the death penalty in future cases.

Miller was in court Friday for a mental competency hearing in which Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge George Tyan heard from the state and Miller's defense about whether he could stand trial.

During the hearing, which lasted several minutes, it was stated that psychologist Robert Janner conducted a forensic interview with Miller on Aug. 29.  After the interview and a review of law enforcement reports, jail records and jail phone recordings, Janner concluded that Miller was competent to proceed. 

"Mr. Miller was entirely appropriate during the evaluation. He had serial logical and global-oriented or direct-thought processes. He was at least average or possibly above average intelligence. He had no suicidal or homicidal ideations and no delusions, indicating he was responding to internal preoccupation or stimuli. He was fully oriented as to time and place," the judge said.

Tyan said that Janner ruled out a diagnosis of delirium, dementia, intellectual disabilities and psychosis.

"Although Dr. Janner's diagnostic impression in this case indicates Mr. Miller suffers from a mental illness, he stated, 'This does not, however, render Mr. Miller incompetent to proceed,'" Tyan said. "Mr. Miller understands the adversarial nature of the legal process. He knows his lawyer is on his side, the state is on the other side, and the judge and the jury decide his guilt or innocence, and if guilty, what happens to him."

Baxter's widow, Sadia Baxter -- a former Kissimmee police officer who recently became an FDLE special agent -- was in the courtroom during the hearing. 

FDLE spokeswoman Angela Starke said it was the first time Sadia Baxter had seen Miller.  

"She wants the community to know she senses their prayers," Starke said. 

Miller has entered a plea of not guilty. His next hearing is scheduled for Dec 12.

Miller's trial is scheduled to begin in January.

[PHOTOS:  Fallen Kissimmee police officers]

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