Date of Crime: November 9, 1999
While married to a different man, Sharee Paulette Miller had
an online romance with an ex-police detective, Jerry Cassaday, from Reno,
Nevada, whom she met on the Internet. Sharee had told him numerous
lies such as being wealthy. She had also traveled to Reno five times
and had a physical affair. In her emails, she said she was married to
a terminally ill husband, Jeff, who would die soon and that afterwards they
could be together. Then she told him her husband died, but she had to
marry his brother, Bruce, because of family pressure. She twice told
Jerry she was pregnant with his child.
Regarding the first pregnancy, she told Jerry she lost the child because her
husband had violently raped her. Regarding the second pregnancy she
said her husband had beaten her until she miscarried. She even used
cosmetic make-up to fake a picture of herself, showing herself all bruised
up. She also sent some emails allegedly from her husband to Jerry
saying that he found out about the pregnancy and killed Jerry's “bastard”
child. Sharee had also told Jerry that her husband was in the Mafia.
Jerry had trouble with drugs and alcohol and moved from Reno, Nevada to his
hometown of Odessa, Missouri.
Sharee's husband, Bruce Miller, 48, worked third shift at an auto plant in
Flint. He also owned a junkyard, B & D Auto Parts, where he worked
when he was not working at the plant. One night while Bruce was alone
at the junkyard, someone showed up and murdered him. Police thought
Bruce was the victim of a robbery as money he had on him was missing.
In her online romance with Jerry, Sharee still was not willing to join
Jerry, even though she was free of her husband. In apparent despair,
Jerry, then 39, committed suicide three months after the murder. He
left a suicide note and an alleged transcript of instant messages between
himself and Sharee that implicated Sharee in Bruce's murder. Jerry
said he had murdered Bruce with Sharee's help.
Despite her infidelity, Sharee was reportedly happy in her marriage to
Bruce. He was her third husband and provided stability that she had
not had before. She also had no known motive to kill him. She
did not even have a small life insurance policy on him. Police found
email correspondence on Jerry's computer between Sharee and Jerry.
There was nothing in these emails that directly implicated Sharee in the
murder. They somewhat supported Sharee's claim that she was trying to
scare Jerry, so he would not call her house so much.
Sharee was tried for the murder of her husband. Jerry's suicide note
and his transcript of instant messages, which showed Sharee participating in
the planning the murder, were introduced as evidence. The transcripts
could easily have been faked. Because he had been jilted, Jerry had
motive to falsely implicate Sharee in the murder. There was little
reason to regard Jerry's evidence as reliable or trustworthy. Being
dead, Jerry could not be cross-examined. Jerry was also an ex-police
detective who likely was more adept than an average person in deciding how
to frame an innocent person.
The prosecution presented no physical evidence showing that Jerry had
committed the murder with or without Sharee's help. There existed some
evidence that a business associate of Bruce committed the murder.
Sharee was not allowed at trial to introduce results of a polygraph test
taken of the associate which indicated he was “deceptive” in denying his
involvement in Bruce's murder.
Sharee was convicted. Her infidelity and the lies she told Jerry would
not win her much sympathy.
Nevertheless, since the evidence used to convict her is inherently
unreliable, Sharee's conviction is also inherently unreliable. In
2008, a federal judge overturned her conviction on the grounds that Jerry's
suicide note should not have been allowed into evidence. However, the
judge rejected Sharee's complaint that the alleged instant messages should
not have been allowed into evidence. Sharee was scheduled for retrial
in Oct. 2009, but as of Mar. 2010 it appears not to have taken place as it
is not mentioned in any news report.
Sharee's case was featured on television episodes of A&E's
NBC's Dateline, CBS's Inside Edition, Investigation
Discovery's Deadly Women and on the Oxygen Channel's Snapped.
The case was the subject of a 2003 pro-prosecution book,
Fatal Error, by Kansas City Star reporter Mark Morris
and Flint Journal reporter Paul Janczewski. Also a television
movie produced by Lifetime Television called Fatal Desire was based
on the case. [9/07]
Victims of the State,
Michigan Cases, Husband
Murder Cases, Hearsay Testimony