A teenager from Virginia Beach may escape a prison sentence for attempted capital murder.
The 18-year-old defendant, Riley Miller, allegedly attacked a police officer who tried to apprehend him at his home in December 2017.
During a recent hearing, Miller testified that he was under the influence of drugs he bought from the dark web.
According to police reports, Miller pulled out a knife, which he used to stab the officer’s leg. The officer later received treatment for the injury.
A judgement on Miller’s case is set to be submitted later this month. The court is trying him as an adult due to the severity of the charges against him.
Miller’s History with Drugs
Miller’s arrest took place when he was a senior in high school. He talked to a detective and confessed that he had been smoking marijuana since 8th grade.
Miller also admitted that shortly after, he started selling drugs. 0
At age 14, Miller began using Oxycontin and Xanax. He further started using mushrooms and LSD at the age of 16.
Miller then started buying Clonazolam, a depressant of the benzodiazepine class, from the dark web. This was the substance he used the day of the attack against the police officer.
The Night of the Incident
Miller allegedly threatened his family with a knife at their home in Bradford Acres.
They alerted the police, who had received another report about an armed robbery within the same area.
Miller had reportedly taken part in an armed robbery the same night along with his friend, Jonathan Todora, at Shore Drive in Virginia Beach.
This incident took place a few blocks from Miller’s home.
When the police arrived, they found Miller standing outside.
The police reported that he looked agitated and was apparently preparing to run away.
One of the officers ordered Miller to get down on the ground, which Miller resisted.
The officer, M. Zieger, and his partner, A. Rodriguez, grabbed Miller on either arm, causing the three to fall on the ground.
Miller then took out his knife and turned on Rodriguez while yelling threats.
A few minutes later, the police arrested Todora at a yard close to his friend’s home.
The officers first took Miller to the hospital. Based on the court records, Miller spat at a nurse’s face and insulted and threatened other members of the hospital staff.
The team at the hospital suspected that he was suicidal.
Five hours after Miller’s arrest, a detective interrogated him. The authorities videotaped his interview.
Evidence That Miller Was Under the Influence
According to the detective, Miller’s speech appeared slurred. The video transcripts confirmed this observation.
Furthermore, Miller’s response when the detective asked if he was aware of his Miranda Rights indicated that he thought that the officer was a therapist.
Miller repeatedly stated that he could directly not remember anything about the stabbing.
Some hours before the event took place, Miller had come home after spending a week in a psychiatric hospital.
Stephen Givando, Miller’s attorney, requested the judge to prevent the prosecutors from using his statements during the interrogation to the court.
According to the lawyer, Miller was too high to intentionally give up his rights to stay silent or to request for an attorney.
The prosecutors, however, argued that Miller stated more than once that he understood.
Besides, the police reported that Miller had declared that he would stab the officer and his family if they had not handcuffed him to the hospital bed.
Nevertheless, Givando pointed out that most of the responses that Miller gave to the detective did not make any sense.
He was in a blackout from the time of the robbery to the interrogation.
Furthermore, Miller testified that the last thing he could remember from that night was using Clonazolam to cure his headache and withdrawal symptoms.
He also stated that he checked his silver revolver.
The teen stated that low doses of the drug kept him calm. However, taking too much of it made him irritable, aggressive and forgetful.
According to Miller, on that night, he kept taking the substance until things got out of control.
Miller took the Clonazolam in the form of a green liquid. He reported that he used an oral syringe and took between six and eight millimeters of the substance.
Miller’s doctor, Michael Bohan, testified that Clonazolam usually has a calming effect on its users.
However, the drug sometimes causes the user to behave aggressively, especially if they face confrontation.
Bohan, who watched Miller’s interview, stated that he believed that at the time, the teen was highly intoxicated.
However, Dr. Connie Luckie, an expert in toxicology, opposed most of Bohan’s statements.
Luckie reported that Clonazolam is a chemical for research that is not appropriate for human use. The chemical only recently became a street drug.
Luckie further pointed out that Clonazolam belongs to the Schedule 1 classification of dangerous drugs, a recent addition to Virginia State Law standards and schedules.
She added that the drug’s affects are similar to alcohol, as it is a depressant that can lead to slurred speech, memory loss and tiredness.
However, there was still no way to determine the potency of the green liquid that Miller had taken.
The two doctors, nonetheless, agreed that there is still little knowledge regarding the drug due to a lack of clinical trials studying its effects in-depth.
The court expects the defense and prosecution to submit their written arguments on April 8. Circuit Judge A. Bonwill Shockley will then give her verdict during the next hearing on April 15.
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