Student's killer gets life without parole

January 08, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

DENTON -- A former chicken plant worker convicted in November of murdering a 17-year-old Salisbury State University student was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Moments before he heard Caroline County Judge J. Owen Wise announce the sentence, convicted killer David Anthony Boyd stood in court and broke his silence about the death of Heather Miller, who was fatally stabbed inside a restroom at the Salisbury Mall on Sept. 9, 1991.

"I just wanted to say I'm sorry for the pain they've felt," said Boyd in reference to the Miller family, who traveled to the sentencing from their home outside Pittsburgh. But, he added quietly, "I still maintain my innocence."

Boyd, 34, said he had prepared a statement to read to the judge but put it aside after hearing Ms. Miller's father, Richard A. Miller, describe in court how the murder affected his life.

"Every night I go to the cemetery to visit Heather," he said. "It's the only way I can give my daughter any of my time."

Mr. Miller said he and his wife are undergoing weekly counseling to deal with the loss of their daughter, but the grief remains strong.

"Nothing helps," he said. "The pain is always there."

Judge Wise, who said Boyd's long record of violent behavior showed he did not deserve a chance for parole, convicted Boyd of first-degree murder at the end of a seven-day trial here in November.

The trial had been moved from Wicomico to Caroline County because of the publicity the murder generated in Salisbury.

Prosecutors had tried to prove that Boyd robbed Ms. Miller of her purse during the stabbing -- a felony murder charge that could have resulted in the death penalty for Boyd under Maryland law.

But the purse was never found and, in a ruling that defense lawyers saw as a victory for them, Judge Wise declared there was insufficient evidence of robbery.

Ms. Miller had just begun her freshman year at Salisbury State when she accompanied friends to the Salisbury Mall. She went into the women's restroom where, prosecutors argued at the trial, Boyd was hiding.

Yesterday, Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis R. Ruark said Ms. Miller was "trapped like an animal" with no means of escape when Boyd attacked her with a knife.

Public defender John P. Rue II argued that Boyd should be given a chance for parole because his client's criminal history, which includes numerous convictions for assault, was based in part on a troubled childhood.

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