Lawrence J. Miller Jr., who now lives freely in Branford, was just rewarded more than $4 million from the state after they wrongfully imprisoned him for 12 1/2 years. Yes, you read that right. Twelve and a half years.
Back in 1981, Lawrence J. Miller Jr. was a married father of two children. He volunteered in his Putnam Lake, New York community. He had served in the Army and was a police officer in Brewster, New York. He then worked as a federal corrections officer. That is up until he was wrongly identified as the man who brutally assaulted a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy in Danbury in August 1981.
Both the victims were strangled and pistol whipped. The girl might have been sexually assaulted. A year after the attacks, the girl identified him in a department store as her attacker. Despite shaky evidence and his alibi of being at his sister’s house in Brewster, New York, he was convicted and sentenced to 32 years in jail.
Then in 1995, Daniel Johnston of Danbury, who was already serving a prison sentence in New York, confessed to the crimes. Johnston was never tried for the attacks because he was already serving 35 years to life for murder and sexual abuse charges.
Finally, after Miller’s habeas corpus trial and state appeals, all the charges dropped and he was released from prison in 1997. More than 12 years after going in.
In 2008, the state set up the law to compensate people wrongfully incarcerated. Miller and his lawyer have worked since then, another seven years, to finally receive some type of retribution after missing birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and the birth of his grandchildren and being forced to endure physical and sexual harassment in prison after the inmates found out he was once a police officer and corrections officer.
Finally, finally, finally, he was given his settlement of over $4 million, which oddly seems like not a lot of money now.