Tustin High School Killer Wants Punishment Reduction

Categories: Court, Crime-iny

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A 16-year-old Tustin High School student convicted in 1996 for a special circumstances murder of a 14-year-old boy wants a new hearing to reconsider his punishment.

That's not surprising.

Thomas Donald Miller has a net worth of 12 cents (if you exclude $10,000 in court-ordered restitution he still owes) and is living in California's most notorious maximum security facility: Pelican Bay State Prison.

As of now, Miller, who is 34 years old, will never leave prison alive.

An Orange County Superior Court judge gave a life sentence without the possibility for parole in 1997.

Late last month, Miller filed a federal petition seeking to overturn his punishment. He claims relatively recent court decisions should retroactively grant him a right to parole because of his youthful age at the time he committed first-degree murder with a handgun he fired into the head of the other teenager.

It took less than two weeks inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana for U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna to settle the case.

In a three-page ruling, Selna noted that Miller's claims have previously been rejected as weak and also noted that his complaints about his 17-year-old conviction are now time-barred for consideration.

Following the fatal shooting, the Orange County District Attorney's office decided to prosecute Miller, once a popular Little League baseball player, as an adult.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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