ETX man transferred to PA for 1981 murder 'unlikely' to face death penalty
POSTED: Friday, June 27, 2014 - 3:35pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 27, 2014 - 5:08pm
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (KETK) — A former East Texas deacon, who was caught living a double life, has been transferred to Pennsylvania to face a murder charge dating back to 1981.
Authorities moved Joseph Lewis Miller, 78, from the Wood County Jail to the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, jail Thursday. He is charged with homicide and a parole violation. The suspect is being held on no bond, according to Dauphin County Warden Dominick DeRose.
Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo was confident in the state's ability to put Miller away for life, even though his case is more than 30 years old.
"There are difficulties inherent with it...but we believe we can put together a case."
When asked if the state would seek the death penalty, Chardo said it would be a bit premature to speculate, but did mention it is "unlikely" because of the circumstances. Due to Miller's lifetime parole, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of any charge, according to Chardo.
"There is a strong likelihood he [Miller] will be incarcerated for the rest of his life," Chardo told KETK.
U.S. Marshals arrested Joseph Lewis Miller Monday, April 21, 2014, in Mineola, Texas, where he was living under an alias, Roy Eugene Eubanks. Miller, previously of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was charged with the January 15, 1981, fatal shooting of Thomas Waller. The murder occurred in a parking lot adjacent to the Times Hotel at the corner of 14th and Regina Streets in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.
Previous Report: Mineola church deacon arrested, connected to 1981 homicide
Miller is known to have a long violent history. In June 1959, Miller was arrested by the Harrisburg Police for the slaying of John H. Lumpkins. Miller used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot John and Donna Lumpkins on June 12, 1959. Lumpkins died from his wounds July 4, 1959. Miller pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on Jan. 22, 1960.
Marshal Pane stated, “Throughout the late 1960s, Miller applied to have his life sentence commuted. Unfortunately, in 1971, Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer commuted Miller’s sentence from life to a minimum sentence of 11 years, 6 months and 10 days, essentially time served. On Feb. 9, 1971, Miller was released from state custody and placed on lifetime state parole. Within 10 years of being on parole, Miller was charged for the murder of Waller and a warrant issued. Since Miller was on lifetime state parole supervision by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole at the time of the 1981 murder, a state parole violation warrant was also issued.”
A court date has been set for Miller, but is extremely likely to change, according the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office.