After eight years, Harry Miller finally heard a judge recognize him as an innocent man.---
This morning, 3rd District Court Judge Royal Hansen issued an order pronouncing 58-year-old Miller factually innocent of a robbery at knife point that took place on Dec. 8, 2000, outside a convenience store and gas station in North Salt Lake. Miller was convicted of the crime three years later, though he'd been recovering from a stroke in Louisiana at the time the assault took place. He spent four years incarcerated, three of them in Utah State Prison, before the state agreed to release him in 2007.
It still took another four years of concerted efforts by defense attorney Andy McCullough and then the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center before the state of Utah finally accepted that he was innocent and exonerated him of the crime.
Miller's story was told in a City Weekly cover story earlier this year, titled An Innocent Man.
Now Miller will have to decide what to do with his life after spending years in Utah waiting for the courts to deem him factually innocent. Miller talked about moving back to Louisiana with the money Utah will pay him—over $30,000 per year of imprisonment, according to the Factual Innocence statute—and buy himself a small home by the bayou. But he also expressed concerns about the violence in Louisiana and how much, when he lived there, he missed the peace and quiet of Utah.
The story of how Miller came to spend years behind bars for a crime he did not commit remains a sad and tragic saga that raises questions about the policework on the case and the trial, while also highlighting concerns over how eyewitnesses, despite being convinced of an individual's guilt, can nevertheless identify the wrong person.
As much as Miller was wronged, so the robbery victim, Julia Smart, after thinking the trial and conviction was behind her, also discovered that she had not received justice.
As to the man responsible for the crime, his name and fate remain a mystery.