Sergeant Derrick Miller is finally out on parole after eight years and attempting to put his life back together.
Sgt. Miller was convicted of premeditated murder in July 201, for the death of an Afghan while he was out on his third deployment with the U.S. National Guard. In fact, this was already his third deployment in only four years, two of which he volunteered for.
But it was on his final deployment was Sgt. Miller’s life was changed. While he was serving in Afghanistan, he was able to spot an enemy combatant that was dressed as a civilian. When Sgt. Miller attempted to interrogate him the suspect reached for Miller’s weapon, and acting in self-defense, Sgt. Miller killed him.
While there were two witnesses who acknowledged Sgt. Miller’s account in their written testimonies, they claim that the pressure from investigators and prosecution was the reason why they changed their testimony. One of the witnesses who was an interpreter was told that he would no longer be allowed to become an American citizen, while the other was told that he would be listed as an accomplice rather than a witness.
Eventually, Sgt. Miller was court-martialed, and charged with premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Now that Sgt Miller is out on parole, he is still fighting his original conviction, seeking a presidential pardon and asserting his concerns about the Military Justice System stating that there are “serious issues and serious concerns, constitutionally, that should be addressed.”
A concern he voiced was that of how the jury comes to its verdict. In the Military Justice System, the defendant needs the support of over a third of the jurors, while in the civilian world, the defendant only needs the support of one member in the jury.
Sgt. Miller explains, “It’s a huge difference and translates into a 98 percent conviction rate in the military. That issue alone, you’re putting many people in prison who’d be walking the streets and free on a normal civilian trial.”
Sgt. Miller says the cost of legal help can overwhelm families.
That’s where the United American Patriots steps in. United American Patriots is an organization started by retired Marine Corps Major Bill Donahue. Major Bill Donahue is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star as well as multiple Purple Hearts. The organization was created after Donahue saw an image of six U.S. Marines who were in shackles after being accused of killing Iraqi citizens in the city of Haditha.
According to United American Patriots CEO David Gurfein, “He just said this wasn’t right. Ever since that point, UAP has existed to raise awareness of the cases and warriors who are being wrongfully accused and unjustly convicted and provide financial support for their legal defense and help with reintegration once they are released.”