Man who killed 2 Kissimmee police officers looks to avoid death penalty

A jury unanimously recommended death sentence for Everett Miller in 2019

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A man convicted of killing two Kissimmee police officers was in court Monday as his lawyers are trying to push the court to reconsider the death penalty in his sentencing.

Everett Miller received the death penalty in 2019 for the 2017 shooting deaths of Sgt. Sam Howard and Ofc. Matthew Baxter.

The effort from the defense is part of what is known as a Spencer hearing. The Spencer hearing, which takes its name from the 1993 case of Spencer vs. Florida, is held so defendants facing the death penalty have the opportunity to persuade the court against it.

During the start of the hearing Monday, prosecutors brought Baxter’s wife to the stand where she spoke about how her children have struggled growing up without their father,” Sadia Baxter said. “It pains me to think about our babies who barely got to know their daddy.”

Baxter’s sister, who traveled from Kentucky, also testified about the impact her brother had on her entire family.

“He is forever gone. My hope and plea today is that you hear the word ‘justice,’” Mia Brown said.

The defense brought several witnesses who testified about Miller’s time in the military.

Miller was convicted in 1992 of disorderly conduct in a summary court martial that stemmed from a shooting incident at a cookout. Darren Hightower, who was present at the time of the incident, said he did not observe Miller with a weapon before his arrest.

The defense has argued that Miller did not have a significant history of criminal activity prior to his arrest for murder in 2017.

Testimony in the Spencer hearing is expected to last for up to three days. A hearing will then be held for Miller’s sentencing.

About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.