Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Like a former state trooper who assaulted his mother and stepfather, Byron Miller could have faced much steeper penalties if he’d committed crimes against a stranger.
Yet because he knew his victim well, the former Sanford defense attorney will spend a minimum amount of time in jail for misdemeanor third-degree assault. He’ll also have a chance to clear his criminal record if he successfully completes a two-year deferred sentence.
Presiding Judge Peter Booth sentenced the 38-year-old man on Thursday to 10 days in the Alamosa County Detention Center, and ordered him to serve 30 days under an electronic home monitoring program.
Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Thom LeDoux originally charged Miller with an enhanced felony count of sexual assault, along with misdemeanor harassment and obstruction of a telephone service.
But LeDoux said the plea deal his office reached with Miller reflected the victim’s onetime wishes to resolve the case for her sake, and for the sake of her daughter.
The victim told the court on Thursday that she agreed to the April 22 plea deal at a time when she was under distress, and would withdraw her support if she could.
“All I can say now is justice is not being served,” she said.
She told the court that Miller raped her on Jan. 3, changing her entire life as a result.
“I begged and pleaded, fought and cried, but he wouldn’t listen to me,” she said.
He continued to manipulate her afterward, she said, urging her not to press charges.
To this day, she said that Miller has not shown any remorse for his behavior. He’s only remorseful that he lost his job as a result of his actions, she said.
“Shame on him for being selfish and criminal,” she said.
As for her own life, the woman said she’s not fully aware how the incident will affect her in the future.
Since the assault, she’s been anxious, withdrawn from relationships and often afraid to be in her own house by herself, she said.
“I feel violated, vulnerable, manipulated and hurt beyond words,” she added.
Judge Booth said he understands the deal goes “way too easy” on Miller. Although the court has to consider the cold nature of the law, it cannot be immune to emotions or the facts in this case, he said.
But the judge said he also had to consider the practicalities of how the plea and ensuing sentence helps the woman get on with her life. By avoiding prison and resuming work, Miller will continue to help the woman cover the expenses of raising a disabled child.
Miller said he appreciates the fact he’s been given a second chance, and told the court that he needs to give back to the community.
He said he had been drinking on the night he sexually assaulted the woman. But he said he knows that’s not an excuse, and he took responsibility for his actions.
“I deserve to be punished; I deserve whatever the court gives me,” he said.
It’s sometimes good for a person to be humbled to the dirt, he said.
“There is something cathartic about being punished and feeling like you’ve paid a debt.”
By acting as he did, Miller said he let himself and many others down.
Before the incident, he had a great job and he was a respected member of the community.
“That’s gone in an instant,” he said.
Miller said he’s “not particularly interested” about what happens to him in the future. But he hopes he can become a better man, he said.
He initially told police that he and the woman had consensual sex that night. But he said Thursday there is no doubt his actions were inappropriate.
He said he hopes — but doesn’t expect — that the woman will forgive him one day.
He would do anything he could to help her recover, he said.
“At the end of the day, I want her to be happy, and I hope that whatever comes of this is the ultimate result — is that it makes her happy,” he said.
Under the terms of his two-year deferred sentence, Miller will be subject to intensive supervised probation.
He will also be required to register as a sex offender, and he cannot have contact with anyone under the age of 18, including family members, until he has completed various court-imposed terms and conditions.
In addition, he must also submit to polygraph tests and other exams, and refrain from drinking alcohol or using drugs. He will also be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous sessions, and to perform 60 hours of useful public service, among other conditions.
If he successfully completes his sentence, his guilty plea will be withdrawn and his conviction will be dismissed.