The man accused of shooting 24-year-old Shawnita Campbell in the head and dumping her body along a dirt road off Columbus’ Warehouse Avenue finally is coming to trial 15 years after the homicide.
A jury of seven men and five women this morning will hear opening arguments in the case against Michael York Miller, who’s alleged to have shot Campbell in a car on Coolidge Avenue before ditching the body April 12, 1999, about a mile away on a dirt road 50 yards past Warehouse Transmissions, 606 Warehouse Ave.
U.S. Marshals caught Miller in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 16, 2011. Cold-case investigators from here drove to Ohio to get him the following Feb. 23.
In a hearing Monday before Superior Court Judge William Rumer, father-son defense attorneys Bob Wadkins and Robert Wadkins Jr. challenged statements Miller’s alleged to have made to cold-case investigator Sgt. Randy Long on the 10-hour ride back to Georgia.
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Long testified that Miller started talking to detectives right after he signed a form advising him of his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present. Miller claimed he could not have killed Campbell because he was in jail at the time, Long said.
Long said he filed a report on what Miller told police on the ride home, and digitally recorded statements Miller made during questioning at police headquarters, where the suspect ended the interview after just 10 minutes.
Rumer decided Miller’s statements to police will be admissible during the trial.
Detectives so far have disclosed no motive for the homicide. During his 2011 testimony during Miller’s preliminary in Columbus Recorder’s Court, Long said Campbell was prostituting herself to get money for cocaine, and Miller was known to accost such women.
“He was the bully of the neighborhood,” Long said then. “He would go out there and terrorize the women. He would assault them, take their drugs. They were scared of him.”
A witness told investigators Miller had been looking for Campbell before the shooting, telling people to let her know he had something for her, Long said: “They knew she was in trouble.”
Prosecutors have declared their intent to seek a sentence of life without parole if Miller is convicted. His prior charges include an auto theft in 1990 and 11 counts of forgery in 1992.