Jury finds Miller not guilty

November 26, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

LEXINGTON -- A jury found David "Scott" Miller not guilty Tuesday of federal conspiracy charges connected to Michael Hays' Gravel Switch marijuana farm.

Seven women and five men took less than two hours to reach the verdict.

Scott Miller was the only one of 11 people indicted who asked for a jury trial. The rest, including his father, sister and brother-in-law, pleaded guilty.

"I feel (the verdict) was very fair," Scott Miller said in the hallway of the U.S. District courtroom here. "The good Lord brought down the truth."

Hays ran a marijuana farm in Gravel Switch that could have averaged $1.5 million a year at its height. The farm was exposed after Scott Miller's father shot Hays in the back of the head.


The police investigation that followed uncovered the murder of a Danville man, Rusty Marshall, who was buried in an 8-foot grave on an Indiana farm. No one has been charged with the murder.

During the trial, the prosecution tried to prove that Scott Miller stripped marijuana for Hays because the initials "Sc" appeared on tally sheets.

Defense attorney, David Guarnieri, had Scott Miller's coon hunting partner testify that he had been on out-of-town hunts on some of the days the tally sheet indicated he stripped marijuana.

He also had Scott Miller's mother-in-law and wife testify that Miller always stayed in bed until after 8 a.m. Marijuana stripping began at 7 a.m. so people in Gravel Switch headed to work wouldn't see any activity at the farm.

Hays' wife, Trena; her son, Derek Brummett; and three others involved in the farm, Clifford Slusher, Butch Beasley and Dean Heckathorn all testified that Miller stripped marijuana.

In his closing statements Tuesday, defense attorney David Guarnieri said that all of those people had no credibility because they agreed to testify as part of a plea agreement for lesser sentences in prison and had motive to cover up the truth because they were still friends with Hays.

The men knew Hays through horse pulling contests and admitted on the stand they had seen him at horse pulls this summer, but didn't say whether they had spoken to him.

The Hayses, Brummett, Heckathorn, Beasley, Slusher and another partner in the farm, Alan Grass, are expected to be sentenced on Feb. 26.

Also to be sentenced on that day are William Miller; his daughter, Beverly Hall, and her husband, Frank Hall.

William Miller's wife, Christy Miller, said she believed the verdict meant that Scott Miller, a former Garrard County animal control officer and farm laborer, escaped being "another of Mike Hays' victims."

She said this Thanksgiving would have a special meaning for the entire family.

Scott Miller's father, William Miller, testified at the trial that he believed his family had been coerced into being involved with Hays' marijuana farm.

Despite multiple threats to the family, William Miller continued to travel with Hays to look at draft horses. On one such trip to Indiana, days after Marshall's body was buried, William Miller shot Hays in the back of the head.

"I praise the Lord," William Miller said of his son's not guilty verdict.

Scott Miller's attorney, David Guarnieri said that he believed that Scott and William Miller were courageous for "standing and meeting their accusers."

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