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Texas man originally facing murder charge gets probation

No state deals with accusations of violent crime more harshly than Texas. Already this year, five inmates convicted of homicide have been executed in our state.

When someone is charged with murder in Texas, everything is on the line. The stakes could not have been higher for an Austin man accused of murder in the September 2015 fatal stabbing of a fellow musician. The 69-year-old was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter charges, however, after his attorney made it clear to the jury that the accused had acted in self-defense.

Former police employee James Miller was found guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide and will have to spend six months in jail and then 10 years on probation in the death of 32-year-old Daniel Spencer.

"He was going to hurt me"
The two had been playing music and drinking together in Spencer’s home. The two clashed after the younger man’s sexual advances were rejected and he became angry, Miller said in court. “He had height advantage over me, arm length over me, youth over me,” he testified. “I felt he was going to hurt me.”

Spencer was eight inches taller and 34 years younger than Miller. The two had played music together for approximately six hours before the older man decided it was time to go home. He testified that he forgot his glasses and headed back to Spencer’s house when the younger man made a pass.

When the advance was rejected, the younger man reacted in anger. Miller said he stabbed Spencer twice in order to defend himself.

While no one can be happy that a young man died that night, it is reassuring to know that jurors can be helped to understand the difference between self-defense and murder or manslaughter.

If you have been accused of a violent crime, speak to a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and freedom before you speak to a prosecutor or police.

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