Attorneys spar over evidence sharing in Lake Christine Fire case
EAGLE — A hearing Friday in the case against the father of one of the Lake Christine Fire suspects devolved into bickering over evidence.
Craig Miller’s defense attorney claimed that prosecutors have not shared all the evidence they have against his client. The prosecutor in the case said the defense is wrong and that all evidence has been provided.
Miller is not facing charges connected to the Basalt-area wildfire, which burned 12,566 acres and destroyed three houses, a barn, and an outbuilding this summer. Instead, he is charged with felony burglary, misdemeanor trespassing and misdemeanor menacing after allegedly confronting his neighbors over his suspicions they tipped police to his son’s whereabouts.
His son, Richard Miller, and Allison Marcus, both 23, each face felony arson charges. They are accused of firing incendiary rounds at a Basalt shooting range that sparked the Lake Christine Fire on July 3.
Craig Miller was arrested for his alleged behavior when Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies received a tip July 14 that his son and Marcus were at his Missouri Heights home.
There was reportedly some miscommunication about what date in July Richard Miller and Marcus would turn themselves in.
District Attorney Bruce Brown said he interpreted it would be July 13.
Craig Miller said he interpreted it to be July 16, a Monday, and had asked that law enforcement stay away from the house that weekend because he was hosting family members.
“Today’s motion discussed the prosecution’s failure to turn over critical evidence,” Michael Fox, Craig Miller’s attorney, said at Friday’s hearing. “Mr. Miller vehemently denies engaging in any criminal behavior. We look forward to clearing his name and telling his side of the story at trial.”
Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum said prosecutors have been open in exchanging evidence with Miller’s defense team.
“We have complied with and will continue to comply with the rules of discovery,” McCollum said. “They have everything in the possession of the District Attorney’s Office. Everything that has been requested by the defense that is in the possession of the District Attorney’s Office or law enforcement has been provided, to the extent that it was discoverable.”
Among other things, Fox said he is looking for an anonymous tip that brought law enforcement to Craig Miller’s home, reporting that Richard and Marcus were there.
“There was nothing anonymous about it,” McCollum countered. “It was a 911 call that has been disclosed through the police reports and the 911 call log.”
Craig Miller reportedly became upset when law enforcement arrived, and went over to a neighbors’ house to confront them, according to his arrest affidavit.
When law enforcement showed up at Miller’s home, they didn’t tell Miller who had made the call, although one of the officers said at the time that they received a “tip,” McCollum said.
“It would make no sense to disclose who called them,” McCollum said. “That is good police work.”
Shortly after Craig Miller was placed in the back of a patrol car and placed under arrest, Richard Miller and Marcus exited the house with their hands in the air and said they wanted to surrender, police said.
All three remain free on bond.
Craig Miller said he’s not guilty and will take his chances at trial. He’s back in court March 13 at 9 a.m. His three-day trial is scheduled to begin April 8.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.