Mistrial Declared In Carjacking Case After Witness Mentions Other Crime

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - by Hollie Webb

A mistrial was declared Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Jeremiah Jaques Miller after a witness made statements alluding to another crime. Miller is charged with carjacking a UTC student in the Northshore Walgreen's parking lot. 

The victim, Amanda Sumner, said the incident occurred during the evening on Jan. 13, 2012, when she was running some errands. She said that when she left the store, a tall black male got extremely close to her and said, “Give me your keys.” She said the man had one hand in his pants and she was afraid that he could have been hiding a gun or knife. She handed him her keys, and he took her car and drove away.

Ms. Sumner's car was recovered six days later after being abandoned. Prosecutor Jason Demastus said in his opening statement that a fingerprint was found that was linked to the defendant, but defense attorney Kevin Loper objected.

Attorne Loper told the Jury to “make the state prove what they say they're going to prove.” He said “Ms. Sumner is the victim of a crime, but Mr. Miller is not guilty of that crime. My client is innocent.”

The first witness was the police officer who had investigated the situation after Ms. Sumner called to report what had happened. He explained that there had also been another suspect at the time.

When he was cross-examined by Attorney Loper, he was questioned about the lineup of suspect pictures that the police department used. It was pointed out that while the other suspects' pictures were either mugshots or drivers' license photos, the photo for Miller was from his Facebook page. The defense suggested that this could have made Ms. Sumner more likely to pick Miller's photo out of the lineup, as it was different from the others.

Detective Bill Taylor said he was assigned to the case five days after the incident happened. His task was to determine if the crime was an auto theft or a carjacking.

Ms. Sumner, while she was on the stand, was shown photos of her car after it was found by police. The car had various items in it that she said were not there before it was stolen. In the front seat, there was a mask and several bottles. There was also makeup and a small purse that did not belong to her.

Ms. Sumner said that when she was allowed to drive her car again, she discovered that there were now engine problems, as well as minor damage to one of the sides.

Detective William Puckett was asked by prosecutor Demastus how he came to be involved in the case. However, when he answered, he not only mentioned that he was investigating a robbery, but also that Ms. Sumner's car had been in a pursuit before it was abandoned. The defense objected to this, and the jury was dismissed so that Judge Don Poole could speak to the attorneys privately. The court then decided that this could potentially influence the jury's opinion of Miller's character, and Judge Poole granted a mistrial. 

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