Ex-suspect's lawyer asks $200,000

Westminster man jailed 9 months in murder case

October 27, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

After Carroll County prosecutors dropped first-degree murder charges against Godfrey G. Miller III earlier this month, a lawyer for the Westminster man, who had spent nine months in jail, confronted the city's mayor and council at their meeting Monday night and demanded $200,000 in compensation for his client.

Miller's attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers of Columbia, said the city's flawed police investigation violated Miller's civil rights by failing to reveal evidence that could have cleared his client months ago.

In a letter to Westminster Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff on Oct. 6, Ahlers said Miller, a mentally disabled 20-year-old, was railroaded into a confession by Westminster police and other investigators. The letter suggested a settlement of nearly $900,000. But last night, Ahlers said he would accept $200,000.

Miller was arrested on first-degree murder charges in January, 12 days after Richard Paul Atkins Jr. was found fatally beaten in his room in the 100 block of E. Main St. Miller was jailed until Oct. 4, when State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes dropped the murder charges.

The case unraveled with the discovery of evidence that Westminster police had allegedly withheld until last month, including reports from correctional officers, prepared in January, of alleged conversations that implicated a convicted jail inmate and her then-boyfriend.

At another hearing last month, Westminster police testified that they did not find physical evidence connecting Miller to Atkins.

In the Oct. 6 letter, Ahlers demanded that the city accept responsibility for his client's wrongful imprisonment and quickly settle with Miller to reimburse him for the time spent in jail and for job training.

Ahlers said Monday night that repeated attempts to meet privately with city officials had failed, forcing him to address the council directly.

City Council President Damian L. Halstad told him that pending litigation - or the implication of a lawsuit - was a matter not to be discussed publicly but through City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr.

Ahlers sent the city a letter Oct. 7 declaring a notice of claim for injury, considered a prerequisite for a lawsuit, Halstad said.

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